Five Qualities a Student Body President Should Have
Celia Hassan, Student Body President
Election season is here, and soon a new Student Body President will govern the masses of Reed College. Thankfully (or maybe unfortunately?) it is not my job to handpick my successor. Rather, I will provide you with a list of qualities you should have, should you consider running for President.
1. Organization and time management skills.
You will not make it past your first week without being insanely organized. Being President is about meeting with everyone and their mother, about different things, all at the exact same moment in time. It is like juggling a T-Rex, the state of Kansas, and cyanide at the same time while riding a unicycle over a tightrope 500 feet from the ground. While in a neon green leotard. While singing the most beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that anyone has ever heard. Point being, there are a lot of things that have to get done and that people will depend on you for. You don’t want to let anyone down, but you also need to eat, sleep, breathe, maybe graduate, possibly have some semblance of a social life, etc, so it’s very important that you be organized and that you get things done on time. If you are a huge procrastinator, this might not be the best job for you.
2. Outlet for stress.
A circus act of this caliber is stressful, in case you didn’t pick up on that. I would suggest getting yourself a therapist if you don’t already have one. And while you’re at it, you might as well start moving your things into the health center, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time there. Maybe ask your counselor to clear out a drawer for your toothbrush and change of clothes? Just kidding. Kind of. Talking it out is a good way to relieve stress, but you should also find something that makes you happy and hold onto it for dear life. I like to run. In the time I’ve been President, I ran the distance from here to New York and back a couple times. Excessive? Maybe, but if you don’t have an effective stress reliever, you won’t last long. It should also be noted that your stress reliever should be healthy. Drinking away your sorrows, though effective for the moment, is not a long-term solution by any means.
3. Management skills.
You are one person, and you can’t do everything. As President, you are essentially the manager of Senate. It is not your job to get everything done; rather, it is your job to make sure other people are getting everything done. . You will be way too busy with way too many other things to get everything else done yourself.
4. Patience with people, patience with the process, and patience with yourself.
I can’t emphasize that enough. The list of people you want to punch will grow exponentially with this job, and it is highly likely that you will be on your own list. In order to be patient with yourself you must have realistic expectations. You absolutely must be comfortable setting limits and saying ‘no’ to things people want you to do when it just isn’t possible.
5. People Skills.
You gotta have em. You will work closely with administrators, faculty, staff, and students, as well as people with no connection to the College. You absolutely must have the ability to engage with others in an effective, respectful manner. That may mean swallowing your pride at times and interacting with your biggest enemy, but you have to do it. You serve everyone, not just your friends.
These are the top 5 qualities I think every President should have, but of course, there are others. This job is one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, but it also came with a lot of sacrifices, a lot of tears, and a lot of stress. The decision to run for this job is one that should be carefully thought out with a great deal of consideration.
I’m around for anyone who would like to talk in more depth about the job and what it requires.