American University senior Kiersten Gillette-Pierce, also known as Gillette, is taking AU by storm. After only about a month as a senator, Gillette passed a racial and cultural sensitivity bill through Senate with unanimous approval. The bill will require all Student Government officers to complete a racial and cultural sensitivity training, and eventually, the entire school. Now, almost a month later, Gillette is working with groups across campus to build the curriculum necessary for bringing the racial and cultural sensitivity bill to life. Her Campus American had the opportunity to sit down with Gillette and talk about her goals, her passions and of course – her hair.
Major: Double major in Public Heath and WGSS, with a minor in African-American and African Diaspora Studies
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Title: Senator for the Class of 2016
Her Campus American University: What made you join the Senate?
Kiersten Gillette-Pierce: Will Mascaro. Without Will I wouldn’t be in Senate. At first I did it because they wanted to get more color into the Senate, so I was like ‘Let me just see what can I do.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh snap they are actually cool with me doing it!’
HCAU: Can you talk about the racial and cultural sensitivity bill that was just passed?
KGP: I wanted to write the bill because that was my main purpose of getting into Senate. Every year that I’ve been at American things have just progressively gotten worse, as far as people being too comfortable with saying things that are not okay, and AU’s administration not doing anything about it. So with the platform of being a senator, I wanted to make sure that I could do something about it. And obviously as a black woman, I’m part of the say and I have a lot of friends who deal with microaggressions on the daily – in the classroom, on campus, and in general. And I wanted to do something about it. I actually wrote the bill myself, and then I had Will and Shannon McDermott review it for me. And I made some more edits after Will helped me out. And Devontae Torriente was there to support me.
HCAU: When you presented the bill, a lot of students came out for the first ever #BlackOutSenate. Who organized that?
KGP: I messaged Meriam Salem and Tatiana Laing, who are both apart of The Darkening, and I asked them if they could put something together. I knew it would be a lot easier to get senators to vote the right way, and to not be able to say crazy things in the period of debate if there were students there to hold them accountable for their words. And they thought it was a great idea! Literally five minutes after I asked them, they had already made the Facebook page. They were so on it. I love The Darkening. And I told them to ask people if they want to wear cultural garb or black, and it happened!
HCAU: What are your other goals for Senate?
KGP: Racial and cultural sensitivity training is pretty much my main focus because it’s so big. We have Student Government doing the pilot and we’ll do the second trial run with clubs, teams and organizations around campus. After that we’re going to try to go for campus at large. And I don’t even know, since I’m a senior, if I’m going to be there to see the large, but I know that I’m going at least try to get through the second phase.
I wanted to work on a bill that, might not be mandatory, but optional, maybe working with CDI or something along those lines, to have comprehensive sexual education because I know that that’s a really good way to combat some of the sexual assault issues we have on campus. It’s just really good to have that. It’s also helpful since a lot of students come in to college without any knowledge of what sex is about, or the intricacies of sex and sexual activity. It would be really cool to have something on campus that’s kind of like – “Hey, this is sex.” That’s something that I want to try to start on next semester.
HCAU: What makes you feel powerful?
KGP: Big hair is my everything. My life in a nutshell is “skinny girl, big hair.” I feel like Diana Ross, I feel like “I am woman, hear me roar.” And this year I started feeling powerful because I realized that I am black, and I am bomb. I am bomb. I’m out here doing things, and my community supports me, and people back home who I don’t even talk to even more text me saying, “we’re so proud of you.” That makes me feel powerful.
HCAU: What inspires you?
KGP: My mommy! She works my nerves and I know I work her nerves, too. But I just know all the sacrifices that she made for me. She’s really living life and she’s able to balance three kids and a husband who’s always away because he’s a pilot. I just really like her strength. We’ve been through a lot, but she never lets me see her sweat. She’s just an amazing woman.
HCAU: Now, let me ask a fun question .What’s your favorite album of all time?
KGP: I love music so it’s really hard to choose. But as far as something that I can listen to and something that just encompasses my life – Outkast’s ATLiens. It reminds me of my dad because music is our thing.
Photo Credit: 1
All other photos belong to Gillette