LSU Student Government vice president Taylor Scott is the first black woman to fill that role at the University in 14 years, even though LSU’s SG dates back over 90 years. Scott was preceded by Jenny Byrd*, who served as vice president in 2004-05.
The mass communication and African and African American studies junior from Beaumont, Texas, said she never had lifelong dreams of attending the University, let alone making history there.
“Coming here and being able to be the first black woman VP [in over a decade] just means a lot,” Scott said. “I’m humbled."
Scott said neither of her parents attended the University, and securing the role of vice president has reassured her that she’s exactly where she’s meant to be.
Scott said she believes her new role is meaningful to other students, particularly those whose backgrounds and demographics are not always reflected by the University’s leadership.
“That means the most to me — that someone else is going to be able to see me here and say, ‘I can be there,’” Scott said.
Scott said she has the responsibility of representing and advocating for minorities, women and out-of-state students, since she will be working with some of the University’s top officials, such as LSU President F. King Alexander and Executive Vice President and Provost Stacia Haynie. Scott said she wants to be a familiar face to the students she represents, and she wants them to trust her enough to bring their concerns to her and expect her to deliver.
“I’m determined to take this position and do something with it that no one has ever done,” Scott said.
Scott said she wants to implement initiatives that direct minority students to leaders and faculty members who look like them and can address their needs. She said it’s important that students know that no matter who they are, someone who looks like them is advocating for them at the University.
Scott’s success is especially remarkable given the University’s history of attempted segregation. The first black undergraduate student, A.P. Tureaud, enrolled at the University in 1953, according to the Clarence L. Barney Jr. African American Cultural Center.
The Reveille reported that in 1956, former LSU President Troy Middleton fought to prevent African Americans from enrolling by presenting a report titled, “LSU and Segregation” to the Board of Supervisors, explaining that the University’s historical policy was to not admit black students.
“When you think [that] three generations ago, people weren’t even allowed that look like me to come to this school, [being] in a position that’s recognizable means a lot to me,” Scott said.
Former SG president Stewart Lockett was the University’s first black SG president in nearly 30 years, and he said Scott may inspire others to take on leadership positions.
“She creates change wherever she goes,” Lockett said. “She isn’t going to let things go stagnant.”
Scott served on Lockett’s executive staff during his term, and Lockett said he saw first-hand that she’s a hard worker and a great fit for the position.
“I think she’s going to tap into a group that no one in leadership has been able to tap into and really resonate with them,” Lockett said. “Not only is she a black woman, she’s in black Greek Life.”
Scott is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at the University and said that SG vice presidents are often white women in Greek Life. But AKA is part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the governing body of historically African American sororities and fraternities, which has two sorority and two fraternity chapters at the University. Other primary Greek Life councils at the University include the Panhellenic Council and the Interfraternity Council, comprising 14 sororities and 18 fraternities on campus, respectively.
Scott’s position will allow her to represent members of NPHC chapters, which contrasts with other SG executives who were members of the PHC or the IFC.
SG president William Jewell said he wants students to feel empowered by Scott and her leadership. He said the increased diversity is great, but Scott didn’t get her position just for the sake of diversifying SG — she earned it because she was the best and most qualified candidate for it.
“There’s nobody else that I would’ve wanted to run with,” Jewell said. “I’m really just proud to call her my friend and proud to call her my vice president.”
*Editor's Note: A previous version of this story said Taylor Scott was the first black female LSU Student Government vice president, but Scott was preceded by Jenny Byrd, who served as VP in 2004-05. The Reveille regrets this error.