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Brooke Norton : THE FIRST WOMAN STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT

Meghanne Downes | Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Brooke Norton moved into her Walsh dorm room in August 1998 and was shocked to learn that there had never been a female student body president. Two and a half years later she was elected the first female student body president.”I was not the type of person who went to Notre Dame thinking I would be president,” Norton said. “It just kind of evolved. There was just something that told me I needed to do it.” In high school, Norton focused on grades and sports, but at Notre Dame she searched for another outlet. She said she was surprised to win her dorm’s freshman class council position. From there she rose up the student government ranks. Norton said it shouldn’t have taken 28 years since co-education before the first female student body president was elected.”The way [my presidency] was different was that I had a different vantage point,” Norton said. “A lot of things other presidents hadn’t gone through, such as living in girls’ dorm, provided that different vantage point.”She said Notre Dame’s high voter turnout for elections and the support she received reinforced her position. “There is a lot of pressure with student government and presidents get criticized because they choose to take that position,” Norton said. “But you primarily but it on yourself because you want to do the best job you can.”Norton said she received encouragement from Univer-sity President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh, director of public relations Denny Moore and other male administrators to run for the top position and during her term.Though Norton found her experience of running for and serving as student body vice president beneficial, she said the experiences were very different. When she ran for student body president, she had experience and was not asked why she was running. “There was a lot of encouragement,” Norton said. “I can’t say that I would have just run, without the experience. I don’t think that would have been easy thing. I think there is social paradigm, especially where a women is first to do something, for a woman to have to work harder to do something than a man would.”