“It’s Scary, but It’s Worth It” and Other Thoughts on CampaigningAugust 07, 2012
“Elect Her was a major factor in me deciding to run [for office],” says Western Washington University student Carly Roberts, who is the newly elected vice president for activities for the Associated Students (AS) at WWU. Thanks to the encouragement and training she received during WWU’s Elect Her–Campus Women Win workshop, the junior human services major is ready to make a difference on her campus this fall. She took a moment to share her campaigning experience with AAUW Dialog.
AAUW: Why did you decide to run for campus office?
Roberts: I have always been passionate about being involved in my community and taking full advantage of the opportunities available to me. After two years of working as an AS employee, I felt this was the best way for me to continue serving students, and running for office was an excellent opportunity that I could not pass up.
AAUW: What were some of your successful campaign strategies?
Roberts: My main focus during my campaign was delivering a cohesive message. I chose two main focus issues for my campaign: addressing the accessibility of the AS to students at large and reforming leadership and resource training for club leaders. By picking two main issues, I was able to deliver a concise, repetitive message that students could easily identify. Another thing that I found important while campaigning was being realistic. I acknowledged real issues and offered realistic responses. It is easy to get sucked into trying to find solutions to every issue while you’re campaigning — to be the “I have all of the answers!” candidate. But in reality, people appreciate hearing the truth. Sometimes the truth is that you don’t have the answers, and that is OK. The important thing is that you have a plan to find these answers and are committed to it.
AAUW: What do you hope to accomplish during your term?
Roberts: I want make the Associated Students more approachable. Students are paying for the services and programs the AS offers, so we owe it to students to ensure that they know what these services are and how to access them. I also plan to increase and improve the training available to club leaders. I want to move beyond facilitating club activities and really empower students to take hold of their passions and build transferrable skills that they can take beyond their college experience.
AAUW: What are your goals after college?
Roberts: I do not have any specific plans, but I know that I will be an empowered individual and pursue excellence in whatever I do. Eventually, I would like to be involved in local politics.
AAUW: What advice would you give to other women students who are questioning whether they should run or not?
Roberts: Run. Put yourself out there. It’s scary, but it’s worth it! Even if you don’t win, the process of running for office is a great learning experience. You learn about yourself, people in general, and the democratic process. If you don’t run, who will? Don’t depend on others to speak for you — speak for yourself, and while you’re at it, give others a voice too!
AAUW: Why do you think Elect Her–Campus Women Win is a valuable program for your campus?
Roberts: Elect Her was a major factor in me deciding to run. I was one of only three female candidates out of 13. The other two were running against each other, so if I had not run, there would only be one woman on a board of seven people representing a school where women make up more than half of the students. Elect Her is important because it shows women that they have a powerful voice that is important — a voice that needs to be heard. I am extremely grateful that I was able to experience Elect Her.