The Quest sat down with Margot Becker (She/They), Reed’s new Student Body Vice President. Becker is a Comparative Literature Major from Brooklyn, NY, who professes to have “an unnatural love for safety demonstrations on airplanes.” The Quest asked Margot about her new role in student government.
What was your motivation to run for vice president?
I decided to run for VP because after one semester on Senate I knew that my work serving the student body wasn’t done yet, but I also knew that the role of a senator wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be. I feel like one of my proudest attributes is being able to help other people sort through their priorities and help them achieve their goals, as well as finding ways to communicate those goals to people who won’t exactly be receptive unless they’re stated just the right way. The role of the execs (that’s Prez and VP) has a large support component: we spend a lot of time helping senators to do the important work they need to do, and I felt that I was really well suited to that task. I also ran to continue my mission to find ways to use the resources of the student body government as a means of making life easier for students who have to work to get an education at Reed. In my term on Senate I found this extremely hard, in large part because the structures that guard the institution’s financial backbone are designed not to be breached by student body members. As VP I feel that I have more leverage on a systemic level, and I hope that the work I carry out in supporting communities who rely on work to make ends meet will yield a lasting project and product that can become a part of Senate’s role long after I’m gone.
Could you explain the role of vice president? Does it carry any unique responsibilities?
VP is an interesting role because, as I said, a lot of it is about supporting other members of the SB government community. The vice president is meant to serve as a liaison between the treasury and the senate, as well as as the president’s right-hand man (woman in my case), and as a backup for senators who need some extra experience, an extra set of hands, or both. Being a senator or treasurer is a tough job and being president is an even harder one. If I can support my team and help us bring home victories for the student body, I will know that my tenure has been a success. If I get my own projects off the ground on top of that, that’s gravy.
How is your prior senate experience informing your work as vice president?
For one thing, I know all the fucking acronyms already! But in all seriousness, I think that a year serving with some of the smartest, most hardworking people I’ve ever met has changed me more than anything else on Senate. Watching and learning from Alondra, Orion, Aziz, Safi, and Anjali, in particular, has helped me develop a sense of what it means to have a job that comes without an instruction manual, and without a net. In many ways, being a senator, treasurer, or exec is a job that allows infinite freedom: the choice then becomes what to do with it. Watching my role models identify problems at Reed, and then find effective, realistic, and honestly artful solutions have guided my process not only of solving problems but of seeing them in the first place. I don’t think I could be honestly ready to be VP if it weren’t for the base that that time on Senate and those incredible people offered me.
How does the vice presidency work in relation to the student body president? Do you coordinate with Safi on specific issues/projects?
Working with Safi is kind of the core of my job. There are a lot of projects that she takes on on her own, but for most of our day-to-day non-committee work, we function as a team. All of the meetings that we take with administrators that are kind of state-of-the-union-y are things that I honestly think would be absolutely impossible if we weren’t going to them together. We’re each other’s eyes and ears when we can’t both be in the same place at the same time, and when we do we get to bring our two unique experiences to bear on a single problem or in a single meeting, I kind of think we’re unstoppable!
Senate has quite a few new members this semester. As former senators yourselves, how are you and Safi working to initiate the new members?
I mean, we were all new once and there’s a sort of standard orientation shtick that’s given every year. For our part, though, and huge credit to Safi on this, we decided to focus a lot of attention on ways for us to take care of ourselves and ways we can act as a team. In previous semesters and years, we’ve seen an unacceptable amount of mental and emotional stress and burnout as basic par for the course for senators. At the end of the semester, you were so drained and miserable that it would be a miracle to pass your classes, let alone get anything done. This semester, when we were designing our orientation programming for senators (and our new treasurer and secretary!), we decided to highlight ways that we’ve found to take care of our minds and bodies so that we can actually work as a team all semester-long instead of ending up as hollow wrecks of the people we once were. We’re so lucky to have such a big new team, and we’re really excited to be working with Lennox, Nana, Jefferson, Mack, Nina, Wani, and Miles this semester, as well as our absolutely phenomenal returning senators and treasurers. New ideas and the energy that comes with fresh eyes and ideologies are the things that keep us moving forward and constantly excited to find better ways to make life at Reed better!
What committees do you sit on? Also, are there any additional extracurricular programs you are a part of on campus?
As Safi mentioned, we both serve on committees and hold liaison positions. I serve on the HCC Committee, the Finance Committee, SCAPP (The Student Committee for Academic Policy & Planning), The AOD Committee, the Title IX committee, the Physical Plant Committee, the HUM 110 committee, and the Commencement Committee, as well as holding positions as the liaison to CEP (Conference and Events planning), and the Alumni Liaison. Off the clock, I’m on the clock at my other job as the Assistant Manager of the Student Union. Or, when I’m actually not working, these days I’m playing rugby with my newfound friends and teammates, running, taking photos, or trying to spend a little time off-campus.