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The 2020-2021 NEC executive board is Top row (from left to right): Aarya Patel, Zarina Iman, Claudia Haddad. Middle row: Urooba Abid. Bottom Row (from left to right): Stephanie Hwang, Nathalie Marquez, Sabria Henry-Hunter.

The Nominations and Elections Committee elected its first ever all-women executive board for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The NEC runs student government elections and appoints students to University Council and University-Wide Committees, particularly from underrepresented groups on campus. With the outgoing executive board consisting of three men and four women, incoming and outgoing board members said they are excited to see women holding all positions on the seven-person board.  

NEC executive board elections took place on April 25 internally among the approximately 40 NEC members. College junior Urooba Abid, the incoming NEC chair and outgoing vice chair for nominations, said she was pleasantly surprised to find that all seven newly elected executive board members were women.

“It was definitely not intentional. It just sort of happened,” Abid said. “It's nice to see that women are taking leadership roles in organizations on campus.”

Incoming NEC Vice Chair for Elections and College sophomore Zarina Iman said that having an all-women executive board demonstrates NEC's effort to incorporate diverse voices into its decision-making.

"In addition to of being women, we're just a cross section of identities, and it's just a good feeling, because we're representing not just one demographic or one certain group, but we're actually representing a cross section of groups and a cross section of voices," Iman said.

As a body that promotes underrepresented groups at Penn, NEC should also represent underrepresented groups in their own leadership, incoming NEC Vice Chair for Education and College junior Claudia Haddad added.

"I think considering we're a body that promotes underrepresented groups, it's really important that we have diversity in our executive board as well," Haddad said.

Incoming NEC Vice Chair for Nominations and College first-year Sabria Henry-Hunter also praised the all-women board, adding that seeing women as a majority in student government does not happen often at Penn.

In planning for fall 2020, Abid, also a Daily Pennsylvanian opinion columnist, said conducting postponed Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board elections and University-Wide Committee appointments will be a challenge for the next board.

The NEC opted to violate their bylaws in March and postpone Penn Student Government elections until the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NEC cited student health as a priority, adding that they wanted to ensure a fair election would take place for the 2020-2021 UA and Class Boards.

Henry-Hunter said her responsibilities as NEC vice chair for nominations will include appointing students to University-Wide Committees, 11 of which have filled undergraduate seats, and University Council seats allocated for underrepresented groups on campus, such as UMOJA, Latinx Coalition, and Lambda Alliance. 

Henry-Hunter added that she hopes the NEC will continue to include all branches of student government in its diversity training, as they did for the first time last October.

As NEC Vice Chair for Elections, Iman said she plans to institute workshops for newly elected student government members on leadership in fall 2020 to help better prepare them for their responsibilities. 

Haddad said as NEC vice chair for education, she hopes to reach more students through Penn Student Government Week, a week of study breaks and class-specific events where students can learn about each of the six government branches. Haddad will also run the postponed UA debates between presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates which typically precede spring UA elections.

Abid said she looks forward to working with a strong group of women leading the NEC beginning this fall.

"I'm really proud of the fact that so many women felt the desire to run for a leadership role and commit to the role," she said.