Former SG President and VP reflect on two years of service

By Danielle Gamble

News Editor

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012

N_Goodbye.jpg

Ryan Clair/IC

Former Student Government Vice President Jordan Maddocks and Matt Rubin, who served for two terms, ended their tenure Tuesday night as the new leaders were sworn in.

Even after two years together as Student Government president and vice president, which concluded Tuesday night, Matt Rubin and Jordan Maddocks still have their disagreements.

“I called him the night before it all was due, around midnight — Jordan was asleep,” Rubin said about the night he asked Maddocks to be his running mate. “Jordan kind of mumbled, like, ‘Well, um, maybe. Why don’t you call me in the morning?’”

“No,” Maddocks interjected with a smile. “That’s not how — ”

“That’s how I remember it,” Rubin interrupted. “How do you remember it?”

The duo eventually established the details of their election year, the beginning of an administration that shaped the UT student experience and brought Rubin and Maddocks closer than ever.

Two halves of a whole president

The “brothers four-times-over” have been members of SG, Blue Crew, Blue Key Honor Society and Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity together. However, the self-described “co-presidents” are vastly different.

“We’re pretty much other halves,” Rubin said. “Jordan is really good at everything I’m not good at and vice versa, and we know that and respect that about each other.”

When collaborating with administrators, Rubin and Maddocks said their policy has been, “you catch more flies with honey.”

Maddocks said it is a mistake to believe that students and administrators want different things.

“In actuality, we’re all seeking the same thing — at the end of the day, we want to improve UT and make it one of the leading universities in the nation.” Maddocks said. “When we both realize that we’re trying to accomplish the same thing and we can utilize our individual talents and resources together, you know – collaboration gets you a lot further than sitting around and fighting.”

Even with two years’ worth of accomplishments, Rubin and Maddocks remain realistic about their impact at UT.

“The changes we’ve made on campus are not sweeping, but they’ve been things that have enabled students to succeed,” Rubin said.  

“We’re not going to be able to drastically affect every student on campus, but if we can significantly improve even a few student experiences at UT, then that makes all the difference.”

No fear

The two have many curious habits, including an affinity for a certain ‘Courage Wolf’ meme. They say the descriptor “Bite off more than you can chew — then chew it,” became the catchphrase of their administration.

“I think it embodies our mentality that nothing is beyond our limits and we can’t be afraid of anything,” Maddocks said. “A lot of people are too scared to even take action, but in the time it takes to sit there and think about two ways of doing something, we can go out and try both ways.”

Rubin said it was so important that the two asked those interviewing for SG Cabinet positions to define the meme.

“To us, what it means is people assume they have limits to what they can do and what they’re capable of, and you never really know what you truly can do until you take on too much,” Rubin said. “Whether it’s been missing deadlines or mismanaging people, we’ve failed infinitely more times than we’ve succeeded. But the fact that we have had the courage to take every single risk – the successes are that much bigger.”

Maddocks said while one must have ambition to start things, success means seeing those ideas to completions.

“There’s the ‘bite off more than you can chew’ aspect, which is initial ambition, but then you can’t just run from that. We’re still here and we’re still chewing it,” he said.

The lighter side

Rubin said despite their task-oriented ideology, there are some misconceptions about how the duo views themselves.

“We’re just a different breed,” Rubin said. “I know that we’re public figures… but I feel like people who actually know Jordan and I know that we don’t take ourselves seriously at all. We’re not programmed to be serious and controlling or overbearing in any way. Whether we’re president and VP or not, we’re still the guys who are walking around on campus, smiling and offering help to people we pass by. Our personalities just work with our position.”

Because of this philosophy, Rubin and Maddocks are open with their more unique quirks, like Maddocks’ affinity for removing clothing while in the office.

“It started out innocent enough – it began with me just taking my shoes off,” said Maddocks. “And then, I realized the best way to make sure your pants don’t get wrinkled is don’t wear them.”

Maddocks admitted he once held a 15-minute conversation with an administrator while sitting behind his desk, pant-less.

Rubin acknowledged several oddities of his VP, including what the former president sees as a disturbing hoarding habit, and said he has “walked in on Jordan doing some weird things.”

“He’ll be asleep on the couch, even with the door open, and as soon as someone walks in, he’ll just jump up, sprint to his desk, and just sit in it. I don’t know why — it’s just how Jordan rolls,” Rubin said.

The struggles

While Rubin and Maddocks often joke, they admit the road has not always been easy.

“It’s no walk in the park to be in this position,” Rubin said. “You take a lot of heat for a lot of things, you’re held accountable for things that are out of your control and people make assumptions about you.”

Rubin and Maddocks admitted their greatest hardship was not changing policy but fostering leadership in SG.

Rubin said while his major involves business management, he was forced to trade managing SG for advocating on behalf of students, something he said was his primary goal.

Rubin said the two were unclear with some, including the four Chiefs-of-Staff the administration saw.

“We assumed every student could have their own little American Dream at UT,” Rubin said. “They could come in, get tossed into a leadership position, take charge and learn from it all. But in truth, not everyone is like that, and to expect that attitude from everyone is unrealistic.”

During the second election for their SG office, the pair ran unopposed and Rubin remembers the experience with disappointment.     

“One of the worst feelings I’ve had in office was leaving that Senate meeting and knowing no one was going to run,” he said. “And instead of taking that as a compliment, I took it as an absolute failure. Instead of inspiring people to become leaders, we did the opposite — we inspired them to be more complacent.”

Maddocks said while he recognizes their pitfalls, he and Rubin did what they could under the circumstances, and he is still confident in SG.

“Our organization still has a plethora of leadership, and any student in there is a leader at heart,” he said. “It won’t take much to culture that leadership and develop it.”

Their footprint

In the twilight of their tenure, Rubin and Maddocks disagree on one final issue — how they would like to be remembered.

As a former football player, homecoming king, actor and Zumba instructor, Rubin said he wants people to remember to not limit themselves.

“You don’t have to stick to one area to be happy in life,” he said.

Maddocks, on the other hand, said he prefers not to be remembered.

“I want SG to be remembered,” he said. “I don’t want to be the standard. SG isn’t a fleeting idea – it’s a meaningful group of students, and it can only get better.”

However, both agree their experience has been one-of-a-kind.

“I don’t know if UT will remember us, but we’ll never forget UT,” Maddocks said.

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