A special election for two Senate spots was held a few weeks back, and your new senators are finally here: Anjali Reddy ’22 and Margot Becker ’24! The Quest sat down with both of them to discuss their initial feelings about Senate and their plans for the future.
Anjali Reddy is a junior English major from Claremont, CA, and one of your newest Senators! Although she hadn’t been involved in student government in the past, the special election provided a unique opportunity for her to get involved. “I’m now an upperclassman and have gone through so much of the Reed trajectory. I think going into my junior year, having experienced everything, I finally have my shit together and I have things that I care about,” she explained. “There was so much that I wanted to do as a freshman that I didn’t have the ability to do yet. I think junior year was just the year for me. It’s been really good to grow into [this role] and start to care about the community and change it.”
Both Reddy and Becker are on the Senate Bylaw Committee, a committee that reviews and rewrites the rules and regulations followed by Senate. As they adjust to Senate and undergo more training, their roles will expand accordingly. “We’ve been going to all of the meetings and learning about what it means to be a part of Senate, seeing how much work it is,” Reddy said. “I have to give a lot of credit to these people. I remember thinking, you know, ‘How is it that everyone can handle these things?’ and I think it’s just because [Senate] really sticks together as a team. It works out well.” Reddy also spoke about how big of an inspiration the current Senators were in inspiring her to run. “I saw what Senate was comprised of and how people were moving through it… I’m very passionate about what Senate is currently going for but I also think that they’re just really good people, a really great group of people to work with.”
When asked about the goals she wants to accomplish on Senate, she responded, “Number one is starting a sobriety coalition at Reed, not in terms of a mentorship, just having a space that isn’t judgmental. Somewhere for you to go if you don’t really know what to do, especially because there’s so much stigma with the culture around substances [at Reed].” Reddy continued, “Number two is conflict resolution and mediation within the student body. [Reed] is super small, and everyone is very interconnected. Because of that, when something happens between even just two individuals, it ends up affecting a lot of people. I [want to] just redesign the attitude and culture around conflict mediation, working very closely with JBoard and Honor Council. I also want to work with SHARE [Sexual Health, Advocacy, and Relationship Education] and Period Kollective to make sexual resources a lot more accessible for people at Reed. Not in terms of, ‘They’re here if we need them’, but actually making it a bigger part of the community. We all come from different worlds so having a solid universal understanding of how we view sex at Reed would be really good.”
Reddy emphasized how excited she is to be a part of Senate: “I’ve understood what it’s like to be the Reed student. I’ve gone through that individual experience. Now it’s time for me, as an upperclassman, to come here and empathize, and to create a new space and redesign that space so it doesn’t happen again. I don’t want BIPOC kids to feel alienated. I don’t want the kids who feel like they don’t know what to do with substances to feel like they don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t what people who are scared of sex to not know what to do because we’re so sex-positive. [I want to] design a space that works with the changing times, that’s what I’m here for.”
Margot Becker is a first-year prospective English major from Brooklyn, NY. For her, Senate has been an integral part of the Reed experience since day one. “I moved onto campus, Aziz [ Ouedraogo ’21, current Student Body President] was my [Housing Advisor], so I was hearing about Senate stuff from the very beginning. But then it very quickly became that I was hearing about a lot of problems with admin from my friends, my peers. Just very specific incidents from people… I think there’s a lot of areas where student oversight is important. I thought to myself, you know, I have a passion for this and I’d like to pursue it.”
This isn’t the first time Becker has been involved in a leadership position. In addition to Senate, Margot is also the Student Union Assistant Manager, and carries over some legislative experience from high school. She explained, “I lived in a dorm in high school… I was akin to an HA for two years. But that also gave me a role in running the dorm, doing work with legislative faculty members.” She hopes that this experience will prove useful for her future conversations with Reed admin. Opening up about her activism work, Becker stated, “I try to do as much activism work as I can, try to engage with the communities in need. It’s a little hard just because I’m so new here and I’m still trying to work within COVID regulations, but I’ve made some friends who are doing great work with mutual aid and I’ve been trying to join them as much as I possibly can.”
Becker’s passion for improving students’ quality of life has shaped the way she approaches her duties on Senate. “The first thing that I really have to do now is build relationships with the admin who are responsible for the things I’m interested in pursuing. That’s an uphill battle because students cycle through every four years, the admin… have a lot more trust from the institution. We don’t. [I want to] build an understanding of the institutions that I’m trying to change and being very targeted in the way that I look at policy. Policy surrounding financial aid, the HCC [Health and Counseling Center], HUM 110 and surrounding courses in general.”
She concluded, “I think my obligation to the student body is to put in the work on Senate in a way that makes it an effective representation of the student body to the greater institution of Reed. The school sometimes likes to step on students, take their money and crush them, and then spit them out with diplomas, and we’re supposed to think that’s good enough of a reward. My responsibility is to alleviate that trauma in whatever ways I can, whatever ways Senate allows. Committees are a slow way of getting things done sometimes, but they are effective. It is effective to sit in a room with faculty members and say, ‘Look, this is what’s up. You need to listen to us.’ You know, I’m one of those voices now, and that’s a lot of responsibility.”
Quotes edited for clarity.