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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The Battalion May 4, 2024

Presidential playbook changes hands

 
 

As the 65th Session of Student Senate nears its end and Muster concludes, Reid Joseph transitions from being student body president-elect to taking over all executive responsibilities, which were carried out by former Student Body President John Claybrook.Amid the transition, the past and present A&M student body presidents reflect on expectations of the role – those met and those unreached.Joseph said the transition has been unpredictable at times, but he said he finds confidence in those he’s surrounded himself with.”I guess I didn’t really know exactly what to expect, except for the fact that I knew I’d be drinking from a fire hydrant because there’s a learning curve in everything and this is no exception,” Joseph said. “What gives me great confidence are the people I’ve surrounded myself with. My team is absolutely tremendous. I don’t know everything and there’s a lot to learn and a lot of hard work to be done.”Joseph said guidance from Claybrook has helped him understand what next year will have in store.”[Claybrook] has been tremendous as far as including me in stuff that he doesn’t have to,” Joseph said. “There’s nothing that says the student body president must transition the new guy or anything like that. I see his meetings and I’m invited to absolutely anything that he’s going to.”Through Claybrook’s help, Joseph said he could see more of what the Student Government Association is all about.”I feel like you can really tell the way people care about an organization by the way they transition it, because this is all stuff he doesn’t have to do,” he said. “But it shows how much [Claybrook] and his team care about SGA and about Texas A&M, so I think it’s a tremendous representation of that.”Claybrook said the transition has been fun for him because of the relationship he already had with Joseph.”Reid and I are really close friends so we’ve stayed in close contact all year long,” Claybrook said. “He knows what the position holds and the struggles I’ve gone through. I hope he’s been able to learn from that. He’s very prepared. At this point it’s really a learning curve and being prepared to make decisions.”Claybrook said his term has had many high points, including changes to the Freshman Grade Exclusion and Q-drop policies, significant strides with the 12th Can – an on-campus food pantry – and the first “SEC in D.C.,” a trip to Washington D.C. for students across the Southeastern Conference to advocate for their campuses. Along with the highs, Claybrook said there were also lows, highlighted by controversy and disagreement.”I had a struggling relationship with Student Senate for quite some time, but I think we’ve made some progress in the last month and a half,” Claybrook said. “That was certainly hard for me to go through, but I’m hopeful for [Joseph] and the 66th Session of the Senate and I think they’re going to have a very successful relationship.”The most controversial issue this year, Claybrook said, was Senate Bill 65-70, or the Religious Funding Exemption Bill, which he vetoed in early April.”I had to take all the points that were debated and the text of the bill and make sure that everything was lining up factually, and it didn’t take long to figure out that a lot of the facts that were used were a little bit off base,” Claybrook said. “Once I realized that and that senators were voting on incorrect information, it didn’t take long for me to decide to veto the bill … I’m very pleased with how the situation was resolved.”Joseph, who was with Claybrook when he vetoed the bill, said the outside response was unbelievable.”Not only am I hooked up to his calendar, but I’m also hooked up to his SBP [email] account so I had the fortune of having my phone literally vibrate constantly getting emails,” Joseph said. “His phone was ringing off the wall with reporters from 20 different states – and I mean, 1,500 emails a day is a lot.”Joseph said he was motivated to continue to form relationships in Senate.”I don’t have anything magic, but I’ve made it a priority to form relationships. When you have a united student government, that’s what’s best for students and that’s why we are here. When we have a united student voice and are able to go to administration, there’s power in that,” he said.Through Claybrook’s experiences, Joseph said there are things he could learn from and improve on for next year, including increased communication between the executive and legislative branches of SGA. “I hope Senate knows my door is always open to them,” Joseph said.After the recent tragedies in Boston, Mass., and West, Texas, Claybrook said he was proud of the campus response.”When the opportunity to serve arises, this campus just meets it naturally,” he said.Joseph said the Boston tragedy hit close to home because the mother of one of his friends ran in the Boston Marathon and finished the race three minutes before the two explosions went off. He said when situations like these arise he directs his focus to his faith.”My baseline is my relationship with Christ,” Joseph said. “These things are absolutely tragic – there’s no sugarcoating that. I don’t have all the answers but I have full faith in his plan. Without my faith in Christ, I don’t know where I would go in situations like these. That’s how I process this stuff.”Joseph said he plans on continuing initiatives Claybrook established, such as 12th Can and SEC in D.C., as well as starting new programs and habits, including a college council roundtable, speaking at more campus organization meetings and the boosting of the SGA endowment fund balance to $1 million.”The endowment fund would allow us to be a self-sustaining organization and no longer have to take student fees for the $50,000 allotment that goes toward the committees,” Joseph said. “It sends a statement that we’re able to make decisions or recommendations on student fees without taking them ourselves, and I think that’s a big example to set.”Claybrook, who will graduate in December, said he would have a more typical student schedule once Joseph takes over.”Next semester I’m going to be taking 15 hours of school and working at the Association of Former Students and I’ll probably still be a member of Aggie Men’s Club,” Claybrook said. “I’ll probably take a few naps.”After graduating, Claybrook said he doesn’t have plans set for what he will do.”I have absolutely zero clue and I’m not terribly concerned,” he said. “I’m happy to keep doors open and I know the Lord will have me where he wants me.”

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