On Gender Imbalance, ASB Seeks to Shift the Tides

Just as surfers in PV can count on the tides to change throughout the day, the students of PVHS can rely on the Red Tide to always be there, even as its leaders change every year. 

While this school year has been anything but normal, ASB’s Red Tide Presidents have continued to make an effort to boost school spirit whether students are staying at home or on campus. 

While the positions of Red Tide President are made open to the student body each year, students have long held the perception that the group is a “boy’s club” or “popularity contest,” which partially stems from a lack of open knowledge about the application process. 

During a normal school year, students are required to fill out an application packet and get teacher recommendations, just as they would for other signature programs such as Live from 205 or the Triton Yearbook. 

The applications are then passed through the administration to check for any outstanding issues, such as disciplinary action or academic performance that would prevent students from filling the role. 

Students are interviewed by the outgoing President and the administration on why they’d be a good leader and why they want to lead Red Tide.

 For two years prior, ASB Director Jama Maxfield has had the ASB President and Vice President sit in on the interviews (Maxfield does not allow ASB Presidents to apply for Red Tide President). 

This year, the interviews were adapted to take place over Zoom.

“It’s never 100% everybody wants who they want,” Maxfield said. “Sometimes it has come down to administration picking. Sometimes it has been one of the ASB Presidents or Vice Presidents that can shine a different light and say no, this really isn’t a good choice.”

While the Red Tide application process is comprehensive, the group has overwhelmingly been comprised of men. 

It was only in 2016 that PVHS had its first female Red Tide President, Nicole Halverson. And, students have noticed the gender imbalance.

Photo Courtesy of Jama Maxfield

Ife Ibraheem is one of this year’s Red Tide Presidents, and in addition to being the first Black woman to hold the position, she is the first Black Red Tide President in the history of the school. In her interview for the position, Ibraheem says she called for more girls to be included in the group, something she believes has been a long time coming.

“I don’t think it’s super hard to be like, okay, let’s split it half and half,” she said. “If we do have enough girls, we can split it half. This year, I think we did have enough girls. So I don’t understand why I’m not accompanied by another one or two other girls.”

Two other girls applied to be Red Tide leaders, but Maxfield believes that the schedule of cheerleaders and song leaders is incompatible with the position, in addition to them having to be on the track or sidelines instead of the stands. However, male student-athletes are accepted because of differing sports seasons.

“I think it also makes it harder to be the only girl even if you’re friends with all those guys,” Ibraheem said. “You’re kind of the odd one out… you have to make it clear that, ‘Hey, I’m here. This is what I want to do. Like, I want to be a part of the conversations that you guys are having.’”

 “Say they make weird jokes,” Ibraheem added. “Then you’re kind of just like, ‘What do I do?’ I have no one to defend me, no one to back me up if I want to speak up.”

While the infamous “only girl” trope within the Red Tide has been met again this year, Maxfield hopes that more girls will be encouraged to apply for the position. For the past few years, she has actively sought out women who she believes would be successful in the role. But, she hopes Ibraheem’s involvement will encourage a new wave of female involvement from the student body.

“She has been such a great role model and example for all girls, especially girls of color, 100 percent,” Maxfield said. “I’m hoping that she’s an inspiration. I mean, she inspires me, so I would hope that she would inspire others to want to do what she’s doing because she’s just the best.”

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