Newly appointed ASUO senator Vickie Gimm plans to use her position to better reflect the student body of the University of Oregon. Gimm, an ethnic studies and sociology major, was appointed to Senate seat 1 on Oct. 19 after a divided ASUO eventually voted her into the position.
Gimm has been in the spotlight since she first started at UO because of the positions she has held within the Multicultural Center. During her freshman year, Gimm was attracted towards becoming more involved with student organizations. During her time as outreach coordinator in the MCC, Gimm was involved with dozens of student programs.
“I wandered into the multicultural center and before I knew it I was on staff,” Gimm said. “I spent my freshman and sophomore year as the outreach coordinator, and through that I worked with a ton of different student programs.”
Gimm is an authorized signer of funds for many student organizations and has a vast knowledge of dealing with budgets of various sizes including the MCC’s budget of $160,000. Student organization budgets can range from $200 to over $200,000. Some of the organizations Gimm has been involved with through this position are the Black Student Union, Moviemento Estudiantil Chicano De Atzlan (MEChA) and various others.
Gimm decided to run for an open senate position because she felt that ASUO needed more individuals who are familiar with the vast number of student organizations at UO.
“ASUO is responsible for a lot of programs,” Gimm said. “They make decisions that affect all of these communities and I felt like, as people from these communities, we should probably be involved in those decision making processes.”
The executive board chose Gimm out of a pool of candidates they believed would best reflect the values of ASUO. Quinn Haaga, ASUO president, introduced Gimm to the senate body and expressed the full support of the executive branch for the candidate.
“She offers a unique and incredibly valuable perspective that we believe does not currently exist on either of these bodies,” Haaga said. “Vickie has been advocating for students since the day she arrived on this campus.”
The process for Gimm’s approval onto Senate was met with debate. The Oct. 19 meeting called into question Gimm’s personal demeanor towards ASUO members. Senator Hao Tan recalled social media posts that Gimm posted during last Spring’s elections to question her on her biases.
“There are members on this board that the candidate [Gimm] has either directly or indirectly attacked on social media,” Tan said.
Other candidates were compelled to express their concerns about Gimm’s rhetoric, including senator Awab Al-Rawe.
“I am happy with the candidate’s qualifications,” Al-Rawe said. “However, I am concerned about some of the comments that I’ve heard and the use of language that I’m not comfortable with.”
After the questioning that took up the majority of the ASUO meeting, Gimm found the senate members’ disapproval of her to be contradictory to some of past guest speakers the ASUO had granted funding for in the past.
“It was pretty ironic how they [ASUO] kept going on about free speech, and I somehow am limiting the rights of free speech of certain controversial speakers,” Gimm said. “What about me? What about my rights for free speech and my rights of expression? I felt it was contradictory.”
Gimm called into question ASUO’s definition of freedom expression when they approved the controversial journalist, Milo Yiannopoulos.
“Throughout my years of experience observing ASUO,” Gimm said, “I’ve noticed that free speech rights only apply to people of certain communities, and they aren’t granted to people of marginalized identities. It baffles me that being a spoken advocate and being a woman of color is somehow controversial in the eyes of the ASUO.”
With Gimm’s appointment to Senate, she hopes to bridge the divide that lingers with the ASUO and the entire student body.
“I want to do the best that I can to work in collaboration and communicate with these groups,” Gimm said. “It is important to make sure that people of marginalized identities are a part of these decision making processes.”