The spring semester has brought new faces to Reed’s student body representatives. Returning to elected office is Aziz Ouedraogo, a senior Bio-Chemistry major. A senator for two years, Ouedraogo assumed the position of Vice President at the beginning of the term after the previously elected representative resigned. Ouedraogo spoke to the Quest about several aspects of the position, as well as her aspirations for the future.
To begin, Ouedraogo spoke about how she came into this role, having not been elected to it. Ouedrago explained that the Senate bylaws state that if the vice president steps down before the end of their term,Senate appoints the next vice president. Instead of staying in her Senate seat, Ouedraogo explained that she assumed the position of Vice President because she was the most senior member of the Senate, having served multiple terms there. Furthermore, Ouedraogo pointed to the youth of the Senate to explain why a special election for the vice president seat was not called, stating that more experienced students should assume the “more skill-based” position.
Ouedraogo expressed excitement about the role and said that she felt relatively comfortable in the new position. As she explained, Senate has three primary jobs: “We serve on various committees, funding, and we appoint people to various positions. As VP, I kind of oversee those things.” According to Ouedraogo, the vice president works in tandem with the Senate and Treasurers to tackle the financial aspects of her position. Furthermore, she “work[s] closely with Priya [Narain] as the president, and make[s] sure senators are well supported with committee work.” Ouedraogo hopes to create unity between the president, vice president, and senate during her term.
Coming into her new role, Ouedraogo said that her “focus has been supporting the new senators.” Ouedraogo plans to work with Senate to streamline conversations and policy implementation, especially with regard to committees. As a Black trans woman, she explained that advocacy for minorities “will always work its way into my decision making process, regardless of what I’m voting on.”
Furthermore, Oederaogo said that Reed’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is incongruous compared to other colleges. Reed has been able offer testing to all students and house students on campus, which Oederaogo described as “a monetary luxury and a political luxury.” While she believes that the college’s response and subsequent handling of the pandemic is adequate, Ouderaogo says it is far from perfect. Although faculty members recognize the difficulties that students face, Ouederaogo says, there has been little to no action. “I wish [the faculty] did a better job of recognizing all the other things… we did not eliminate,” Ouderaogo said. Ouderaogo encourages faculty to not just acknowledge the mental and emotional effects of COVID but to reform their practices as a result.
To garner more awareness for Senate, Ouedraogo is trying to have student body representatives featured in the Reed Magazine. “That’s a bit more permanent and goes out to everyone,” she said. Ouderaogo encourages all students to attend public senate meetings. “They’re online, look at the public Senate calendar,” she says. She hopes that the students will support their representatives just as much as Senate supports the students. Through these steps, Ouderaogo hopes to build a better connection between student representatives and the student body, leading to more vibrant conversations and better policy.