Meet the Candidate: Annie Gordon
Running for vice president for student life
Major: American cultural studies
Below are excerpts from an interview with The Western Front.
Why do you want to run for the AS?
“I want to be transparent, that I’m not this big AS person. I haven’t been super with the AS since I walked into this place, but I did get really involved with ResLife and University Residences. I got employed by them winter quarter of my freshman year as an [executive] board member for NRHH [National Residence Hall Honorary]. I then went from there on to become an RA my sophomore year, and now an RA this year, my junior year.
“I’ve been pretty active and very vocal in my job throughout the whole time in terms of addressing areas that I felt needed to be addressed, or things that I felt like residents were saying and weren’t really being heard, or even things that RAs were saying and weren’t being heard.
This year, RAs got pretty involved with Wayne [Rocque], the current ASVP for Student Life, to just really brainstorm and think about how we can address some of these issues that I have been working on for so many months. That was kind of the first time where I was like ‘Whoa, there’s this position out there!’
“I had already decided that I didn’t want to be an RA next year, and I was kind of like, ‘What do I do? Where do I take this information and how do I apply this?’ And so that was my initial, really motivating factor, was just seeing Wayne and seeing the influence that he’s having in giving us as RAs, agency to make our voices heard.
“I was so inspired by that, and I want to be the person that can give that agency to people to really allow them to continue this, because I am concerned that when the year ends, these are just going to go away, and it’s just going to start fresh next year. I do not want that to happen.
“That’s kind of my gut response, but I also want to be honest that there’s a lot of other areas of the job that I am equally devoted to even though they’re not necessarily as high in my own personal experience. So in terms of sustainability, in terms of transportation, in terms of health and campus safety—those are all areas that through my work as an RA I have also spent a lot of time talking and discussing about university residency directors with.
“I’m really excited just for the opportunity to take my knowledge of on-campus living and kind of infuse it into a greater campus-wide ideology. That is something that I am very passionate about carrying forward out of love for my job and love for the people that have given me the experiences I’ve had.
“I know Wayne is working to develop a committee that RAs can serve on next year, but they would be appointed through non-University Residences individuals. That’s something that I really want to carry on next year as a way to continue this. I feel like there’s a divide between ResLife and the AS, and it’s very important to me that these communication routes are really opened.”
What issues do you want to tackle?
“Right now there is this list of demands that have been published by the RAs. There’s one area of that in particular, and that’s equity and social inclusion. That was one area that I was really prominent in authoring. That was one area that I really actively was like, ‘We need to bring this to light.’ And it wasn’t really coming to light because those were issues as a group of predominately white RAs; those issues weren’t really impacting us. So a lot of people were kind of like, ‘Oh, we don’t need to talk about this,’ and I was like, ‘Whoa, we do, though,’ because people have spoken up about how harmful some of the issues in this institution are. So that’s something that is really valuable and I think it’s been interesting to watch and struggle with this group of privileged folks, myself included, try to understand and gain space in their heads and in their hearts to want to tackle an issue that doesn’t directly benefit them.
“Specifically in housing and dining, you can see it reflected in gender-inclusive housing, you can see it reflected in bathroom policies, you can see it reflected in identity conversations that we foster as RAs. But you can also really fold that over to the sustainability, health and wellness aspect of this position. I’m really trying to bring this equitable approach to the sustainability movement, and acknowledge folks that have felt ostracized from it as it been a very predominantly white movement, it’s been a very predominantly upper-class movement.
So these ideas that I have, it’s not just in housing and dining. That’s kind of where my heart is sitting, but I have a lot of ideas about how those ideals can fold over into these other aspects of the job. I want to make sure I’m giving those areas some credit too and some airtime because that’s just as much a part of this job as housing and dining.”
How would you address these specifically?
“In terms of sustainability, when I think about that word, I am focused on trying to expand that word a little bit to not necessarily just mean being a recycler, but also being sustainable in terms of our food, food justice and food shaming, and a lot of these aspects around health and sustainability that is fostered through eating. Through my connections with dining, I feel like I have these relationships that will help me to go about addressing on-campus vendors, which I think since my freshman year have definitely increased their food options in terms of healthy options, but the prices are not compatible with a movement that’s trying to be inclusive. I hear a lot of times this notion, ‘Well, the healthiest option is there,’ but is it affordable, is it accessible?
“In terms of sustainability, am I able to buy the compostable packaging? This awareness to the movement is really important to me that that’s really being brought up, and really looking at it historically and critically and understanding where this movement is rooted, and just really working to address the accessibility of it.”
What are your qualifications?
“This is definitely new to me. It feels very overwhelming. Being honest and transparent, I feel like I do have this disadvantage of not having a lot of experience working directly in the AS.
“So I am really trying to find avenues where I can take advantage of the relationships that I have formed through housing and dining, and also through campus safety. I have a lot of relationships because of my job.
“I’m intimidated, to be honest. I’m working with a lot of folks that really know their stuff. I’m fortunate to have some time to dedicate myself to really becoming knowledgeable. I want to be clear that despite this lack of experience, never would I step into a position that I did not think I could do justice for. This is a huge deal to me and I feel so honored and so privileged to even be given the opportunity to even have like 100 people sign my pamphlet. That was a huge deal. I’m taking it really seriously. I spend a lot of time every day just thinking about it and making sure that I’m going to be good for it and that I’m going to do right by it.
“It was really important that I bring this with me into my campaign, because this is going to be something that I will be continuing to work on next year if I am elected. No matter what.
“Part of the overwhelming feelings I’ve had have also come from a place of love and appreciation. For me to be so welcomed by this community of AS folks who really have never met me until this year is pretty overwhelming to me and pretty powerful in terms of speaking to the kind of community that I’m really hoping to enter myself into. And I want to really acknowledge that this is not something I’m doing on my own. That document is not like ‘Oh I have these thoughts.’ No, as a community of ResLife, RAs and residents have these thoughts. I have the honor of bringing that forward into this position. And to be met by the AS with so much support and so much dedication and just hours of work that they have put into supporting me, I really feel like I can give back to that. After the amount of dedication that they have put in, I feel like I want to do that for the next group of RAs next year.
“I want to be transparent and honest that in no way overshadows the other aspects of this job. If I’m doing this, I’m doing this, and I’m doing it 100 percent. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that I am fulfilling not just housing and dining, but safety, health, sustainability and transportation. Those four categories do not slip my mind at any moment of the day. I’m in a unique position where I come with a very heavy background in housing and dining, but there is a lot of crossover. There is a lot of crossover in campus safety and health. And a lot of these resources that are addressing issues around transportation or sustainability, those are things that I have almost daily conversations about with my residents. They frequently come to me and say ‘How can I get involved with this?’ and I have to be able to say, ‘Oh, go here and here and here.’ So I do have a working knowledge of these ideas, it’s just a matter of I haven’t necessarily worked directly with them. So you know, I’m not going to try to lie about that. It is what it is. But I’m here, and I’m ready.”
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