Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com over the course of the year. Ruby Pierce has been nominated by Vassar College as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of msnbc’s “Women in Politics” series, these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women in Politics” features newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, and deep dives into the key conversations, including a series on "Women Leaders Bridging Tech and Politics in 2016."
From the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten to liberal arts colleges and beyond, young women are making a difference across the country – meet them here!
School: Vassar College
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Role in student government, organizations: Vassar Student Association, Vassar College Choir, Multiracial-Biracial Students' Alliance, Vassar College Student Co-OPERA-tive
Dream job: Professional opera singer
Class year: 2016
Why did you get involved in student government?
After two years of participation in the student government at Vassar (the Vassar Student Association, or VSA), it was clear to me that our entire system was in dire need of an overhaul. I helped to orchestrate an external review last year, culminating in a 200-page report enumerating our flaws. It was quite funny and enormously helpful, and more than anything, solidified the impetus for progress. I was ready to take the project to the next level, and make significant structural change. I ran for the Vice President for Operations, a position on the Executive Board responsible for governance and structure, specifically for the sake of restructuring the VSA. While campaigning, I was honest with people -- I said that my goal was to destroy the VSA and build something better. I was elected, and that's what I did.
Do you plan to vote in the primary and/or November presidential elections this year?
I do plan to vote in the general election.
Has feminism played a role in your life? If so, how?
Our culture frequently tells me I am nothing more than a woman's body. I have learned that I am here for the use of others and for public consumption. Feminism tells me otherwise. Feminism has become my spine. It teaches me constantly to stand tall and reaffirm my right to existence. Feminism tells me I am a human being like any other, I have a heart and a soul and a mind. Feminism tells me I am flawed, and I am allowed to be. Feminism tells me I have something more to give the world than just my body and its various physical powers. Feminism also tells me that I don't have to give more than I want to give. It keeps me alive, it keeps me centered, and it keeps me moving.
What issues are you most passionate about following this election season? Why?
As I think is natural, the issues that interest me most in this election are those that pertain to my own well-being and the well-being of those I love. Particularly, women's reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, and structural support for those of marginalized identities. Frankly, I've been utterly disappointed by the conversations in this campaign. I stopped watching the debates. They aren't substantive in the ways that they should be; everything has been reduced to rhetorical tactics and personal attacks. It seems unreal to me -- that the individuals seeking the highest office in this country could be so starkly out of touch with the lived realities of the people. None of us need more petty drama and slander, yet here we are bearing witness to the inane arguments of giant personalities as if they are somehow productive or profound. The world is only growing in complexity, and it is our responsibility to acknowledge that and respond to it. The cowardly response is to generalize and spread hate. Hate is easy and hate is lazy. Hate is not strength. Love is strength. Patience is strength. We need leaders who know when to stop talking and start listening. We need nuance, we need selflessness, we need care, we need understanding. We are a complex people, and we need a political system that allows for complex conversation, not one that brutally reduces everything to a binary. If I could restructure the United States Government, I'd do that, too.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
My answer to this question seems to change by the minute. I've been blessed with the opportunity to travel a great deal in recent years, thanks to the opportunities available to me at Vassar. For the moment, I'll say Kampala. There are some friends there who are very special to me, and I would give anything to see them again.
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com