The Daily Northwestern for Julia Watson and Erik Zorn
The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board
April 7, 2014 •
This academic year, we have seen students advocate for reform and discussion on a multitude of topics, including Frostbite shuttles, mental health and sexual assault. These topics have not affected a particular group or groups of students, but have shaped the experiences of everyone on this campus. Going forward, the next president and executive vice president of ASG must understand the interconnected nature of all of these issues. They ought to have developed solid relationships with student groups, Northwestern administrators and individuals on campus to identify and promote solutions to problems that plague this campus. The Daily believes Julia Watson and Erik Zorn better highlight these characteristics and are better positioned to facilitate improvements to our collective college experience.
Although we believe both tickets are very qualified, Watson and Zorn’s experience and unique vision will prove particularly beneficial. We were impressed with the platform Watson and Zorn ran on; rather than listing individual goals, the pair grouped them under eight core values they identified as imperative to project success and community identification. These values include participation, accessibility and accountability among others. This approach shows Watson and Zorn understand how individual concerns affect the whole campus and indicates the two have the ability to see things in a new and refreshing perspective.
Their experiences, both within and outside of ASG, will enable the two to better serve the campus beyond the third floor of Norris. Watson currently serves as ASG's public relations vice president, and in that capacity she organized the “Campus Loop” email list as well as ASG roundtables. These initiatives highlight Watson’s effort in bringing more transparency and accountability to ASG by attempting to give all NU students a pair of ears and a voice. She is also a member of the Campus Coalition on Mental Health, offering her an advantageous level of insight on a concern that has grown rapidly over the past few years. Zorn is well suited to represent the interests of the student body as a whole, as his main involvements have been unrelated to ASG. Instead, he is greatly involved with the Residential College Board and Northwestern Community Development Corps — two groups with significant amount of influence and a wide scope.
Watson and Zorn also have overwhelming support from current and past ASG leaders. It is important to find a balance between continuity in ASG leadership and ensuring the organization has competitive elections and the voices of outsiders are heard. We believe Watson and Zorn will remain on the right side of that balance, with their experience and familiarity with ASG allowing them to pursue initiatives that no student government could accomplish in a single school year.
Perhaps most importantly, Watson and Zorn have a clear vision for the role that ASG can and should play in improving Northwestern. Rather than promising only drastic changes ASG cannot deliver, Watson and Zorn leave us hopeful they can shape the government into an effective advocacy group. In this capacity, they would be able to represent the general consensus among students in advocating for reform of all sorts, whether it be increasing Frostbite shuttle service or tackling more ambitious, multiyear projects such as the 3+E program, which would give students academic credit for certain extracurricular activities.
The commitment Alex Deitchman and Ronak Patel have shown to this campaign and this University should not go unnoticed. In particular, Deitchman's willingness, as a student from a nontraditional background, to dedicate himself to making Northwestern better in his limited time here is admirable. As the president of the Northwestern University Veterans Association, he has been a tireless advocate for veterans on campus. NU is in good hands with leaders as committed to affecting change for groups of students both big and small as Deitchman and Patel.
Ultimately, the months of planning and the level of thought and attention that went into Watson and Zorn’s campaign indicates they are more than ready to hit the ground running. Instead of fixating on nuances or becoming flustered in the transition process, Watson and Zorn have fine-tuned their agenda for months, with the input and opinions of hundreds of individuals on campus. This commitment to being accessible and open to students and their views leaves us confident that they would bring to ASG an openness and desire to represent the entire student body and tackle the issues important to all of us.