Powerhouse poet Andrea Gibson has performed on Free Speech TV, The BBC and CSPAN–and her next stop is Mills.
Colleen Kimsey, the Co-President of Team Awesome, a new club on campus this semester, has dreamed of getting Gibson–whom Kimsey gushingly describes as a “fabulous gender queer poet activist” and inspiration for Kimsey’s own activism–to spit her gut-punching rhymes here at Mills for about a year now.
Kimsey said she thinks Gibson would be a “fabulous” addition to the beginning of the next school year.
But Gibson’s 70-minute program speaker fee is $3,000.
“There was definitely a point in October where I was like, ‘Well, I could do a bake sale,'” Kimsey said. “By November, I was like, ‘I’m not that good of a baker.'”
The Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) heard Kimsey’s idea at their meeting on March 28 and voted to give Team Awesome the $3,000 to cover Gibson’s speaker fee. ASMC also voted to give the Indigenous Women’s Alliance $2,529 to help fund the April 17 Mills College Powwow.
“There is no way I would have been able to do this event–absolutely zip, zilch, zero–without ASMC’s special funding,” Kimsey said.
ASMC Accountant Lakshmi Poti said that when every undergraduate pays the $140 ASMC fee each year, the total amount goes to the student government. ASMC then distributes some of that money to all student clubs and organizations; the leftover money is called special funding.
This year ASMC special funding was $20,000, Poti said.
Special funding is available to all undergraduates, but ASMC doesn’t give out handouts without good reason.
If, for example, an undergraduate wanted to throw an event that her club didn’t have enough money for, then she would have to show ASMC that her event in some way gives back to the undergraduate student body.
“This can include having guest speakers come in and talk or just throwing huge dances on campus–some kind of an activity that all Mills student are invited to,” Poti said. “In some cases, students do go outside for conferences, represent Mills and come back to have panel discussions or a table at Adams Plaza with fliers for students to get to know more about what’s out there.”
Poti said that three pillars guide ASMC’s decision-making: supporting community building, rewarding student leaders and sustaining the intellectual life of the college.
ASMC didn’t explicitly invoke these pillars when Kimsey made her March 28 special funding request, but the student government did not immediately vote in favor of granting Team Awesome $3,000.
Kimsey originally requested $3,170 to fund the event.
Soo Choi, Ege Residence Hall Senator, said she really liked the idea but didn’t feel that Kimsey’s event plans were developed enough yet. Choi suggested ASMC partially fund the event.
Choi knew Gibson had performed at other colleges.
“How did it work out with the colleges? How were those events formatted? I just want more information before we fully fund (Team Awesome’s event).”
Sarah Lombardo, Social Sciences Senator, suggested Kimsey come back to ASMC after doing a little more legwork. Referring to Kimsey’s written proposal, Lombardo said, “There are co-sponsors that have no numbers next to them. It’s really confusing. Do you know why she felt she had to ask for the money now as opposed to later?”
“It actually has to be now,” said ASMC Advisor Courtney Young-Law. “There’s only six academic weeks left (from today).” When undergraduates ask for more than $1,000, they have to do it five academic weeks before the event.
ASMC President Amelia Lopez said that Kimsey’s event is planned for August 26, two days after Fall 2011 begins, which is before ASMC deals with special funding requests for the school year.
A week after making her special funding request, Kimsey is rapidly moving forward with her event plans and getting ready to book Gibson.
Kimsey doesn’t think making her idea a reality was that hard.
“I just assumed that it was all going to be okay, it was all going to be possible. I believe that Mills is an institution that wants to support its students … I thought that if it was somewhat beneficial, the college would support it.”
For more about how to make special funding requests, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about poet and activist Andrea Gibson, visit http://www.andreagibson.org/.
Watch her promotional video: