PRINT: Meet the Women in Student Government

SG Representatives advocate for female empowerment, representation in politics.


From left to right: Jami Meyer, Nicole Abreu, and Samantha Malone. Each photo courtesy of person pictured. Collage made by Michelle Rodriguez Gonzalez.

Gillian Manning and Darlene Antoine

Editor’s note: This story is in the UP’s latest issue that can be found digitally through our Issuu page.

A few of the women representatives of the Student Government (SG) have chosen to speak out about their passions and inspirations in honor of Women’s History Month.

Rules and Policies Committee Chairwoman Samantha Malone, Rules and Policies Committee Rep. Nicole Abreu, and Ways and Means Rep. Jami Meyer are speaking out about what it means and the challenges that come with being a woman in the field of politics.

Meyer started in Student Government in Fall 2020, and she says she hasn’t seen any inequitable opportunities in terms of gender disparities but Meyer explained that she faced subtle issues of gender within the classroom.

“There has been a bit of mansplaining, just because I am a business major, and it is more male-dominated,” said Meyer.

Despite facing subtle instances of gender disparities in the classroom, Meyer explained that the necessity for women to be in political and business roles is important for representation.

“I haven’t seen any women in student government try to be the Speaker of the House, at all. I feel like if there was a woman as the Speaker of the House, it would open up so many doors for women here at FAU in leadership positions. I’ve only ever seen two speakers, and from what I have heard they’ve all been guys, I haven’t heard about a female speaker, pro tempore, or parliamentarian,” said Meyer.

Malone’s experience in student government is fueled by her ambition to advocate for the representation of women of color in politics. From the moment she met Florida Senator Audrey Gibson at a young age, not only did she see a representation herself, but the opportunities that could pave the way for inclusion in politics.

According to Catalyst, a global nonprofit organization that aims to build better workplaces for women, women hold 27.1% of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives while men hold 72.9%. Women hold 24% of the seats in the Senate while men hold 76%.

Malone echoed a similar sentiment on the lack of women in SG being represented as speakers, pro tempore, and parliamentarians. She consciously changes her tone of speech in an attempt to get certain points across to the men in the room.

“I have many ideas, and I do get my point across. I feel like when I say things, I have to say them in a way, where it isn’t demanding, but nice. I feel like [the voices of men in Student Government] carry a little stronger across the house,” Malone said. “Especially since our speaker is a male, our parliamentarian is a male, and our pro tempore is a male. Their voices carry a lot stronger across the House.”

However, Malone explained that she has not faced any hurtful remarks based on her gender or race. She insisted that the men in the student government are not only inclusive but also trying to learn more along the way to be both collaborative and supportive in the space for all members.

Abreu joined SG this spring and while she didn’t intend to have a career in public service, she now finds the idea much more attractive than she would have even a year ago.

Becoming more involved in her campus community has inspired Abreu to use her passion for mathematics to pursue a career in economics or within the federal government.

“I want to find something that I can use to positively benefit my community,” said Abreu.

From her current position she hopes to encourage others to get involved with campus activities and promote mental health awareness and advocacy.

“I think it’s really important,” said Abreu. “I think that getting involved with clubs and organizations can help mental health.”

Part of her efforts to promote mental health has been organizing an event scheduled to take place in April called Destroy the Stigma in partnership with the Psychoeducational Programming club, also known as PEP Talk.

Abreu’s discussions are already impacting how her fellow colleagues in the House of Representatives talk about mental health.

“It opened up the floodgates for the House to be very open,” she said and explained that their conversations have made it more common for representatives to discuss their schoolwork and how they are feeling.

“Just be yourself…Don’t be afraid to take action and if you want to do something, just jump on it. Don’t let anybody convince you that you can’t do it,” said Abreu.

According to the United Nations, 119 countries have never had a woman as their leader, and currently, women serve as Heads of State or Government in 22 countries. Catalyst states that women hold 142 seats out of the 535 in the U.S. Congress.

When asked about why women are still behind in terms of representation and inclusion in the field of politics, Malone pointed out that the concept of fear has a strong influence over societal expectations.

“Women are still definitely a minority in politics because of this fear from opposing groups. The fear that they have for women because women are very impactful. We do make the change, and we are very influential to all different groups no matter the age, gender, or race,” Malone said.

Gillian Manning is the Copy Desk Chief for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, tweet her @gillianmanning_ or email [email protected].

Darlene Antoine is the Features Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected].