ASG newcomers bring enthusiasm to Senate

When ASG got back to business Wednesday night, about 55 new senators got their first taste of an organization that many of them believe has the potential to make a real impact on campus. Here are three of their stories.

C.J. WILLEY

Allison Hall senator

Even though C.J. Willey is just now beginning his first full ASG term, he’s already well acquainted with one top administrative figure: “The Bienster.”

Willey began e-mailing University President Henry Bienen at the beginning of last year with problems he noticed around campus, such as housing, North Campus construction and the use of campus buildings by persons not affiliated with Northwestern.

“By the end of the year, he might have gotten tired of (my e-mails),” Willey said.

Willey said he particularly was irked when NU rented out Patten Gymnasium for a wedding in the spring, during the construction work on the Sports Pavilion and Aquatics Center.

“Throughout the year last year I realized I kind of had both a knack for recognizing things on campus and was also willing to help with (the issues),” said Willey, a Weinberg sophomore.

Willey, who hails from Akron, Ohio, lived in Ayers College of Commerce and Industry last year and was elected senator in Spring Quarter. Because of a conflict in class scheduling, however, Willey had to step down after only a few meetings.

He plans to join the Student Services committee, with one definite goal of convincing administrators to revoke a campus housing policy that prohibits the lofting of beds. After serving as a Project Wildcat counselor this year, Willey says he also hopes to gain more funding for pre-registration programs, both to expand the programs currently in place and to create new ones.

Willey also would like to see ASG increase its power, making it comparable to strong student governments at other universities and creating a vehicle through which senators could more easily exercise influence.

“I’d like ASG to model themselves after the student senates at Berkley and Ann Arbor,” he said. “Our Senate is comparatively weaker.”

As a member of College Democrats, Willey worked with Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) during the 2000 election. He also was a class representative in his high school’s student government. Even with his political experience, however, Willey plans to major in economics.

“I have an interest in politics and being informed as a voter,” he said. “But I don’t see it as a career path.”

ROYSI GURELI

Turkish Student Association senator

As Roysi Gureli starts her first term in ASG, she has a luxury few other senators can boast: She doesn’t have to worry about her constituents comparing her to her predecessor. Her group, the Turkish Students Association, recently gained a representative to ASG for the first time in its existence.

Gureli, a McCormick sophomore, said she sees her senator position as an opportunity to spread awareness about her group and her culture by talking to other senators and ASG members.

“I want to represent TSA, and I want to do something for other students,” she said. “People don’t know about small organizations, so I think we will make people know about it more and just introduce us to the school.”

TSA provides an environment for about 70 Turkish students at NU to gather and celebrate their culture. The group brings speakers to campus and celebrates many Turkish holidays together, including the anniversary of Turkish independence.

TSA also hosted a social for incoming Turkish students last summer in Istanbul, where Gureli said most of the Turkish students at NU are from. Gureli said she did not feel comfortable at NU during her first quarter.

“No one (Turkish) was in my dorm,” she said. “I felt alone.”

But rushing a sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, helped give her a sense of community at NU. She also became more involved in TSA and is currently the group’s social chair.

“I felt close to them,” she said. “I got to know them, and I got to know the organization.”

And now Gureli wants to help other students learn about TSA. Gureli said she plans to talk to other senators during the ASG retreat this weekend in Lake Geneva, Wis., and hopes to spread awareness of the club throughout the year.

Gureli also hopes to help with student group issues while spreading awareness about her club. Although she was not aware of ASG until the campuswide elections Spring Quarter, she said she was excited to see ASG implement services such as the weekend shuttle to Chicago and the opening of North Beach during the school year.

Gureli said she did not expect Senate to be so “formal.” But after she learns about the internal workings of ASG, she said she will be eager to pick a committee and start to help make a difference.

“I think I can do something,” she said.

MEREDITH POLLEY

1835 Hinman senator

Medill freshman Meredith Polley said she didn’t know how big the population of 1835 Hinman was until she spoke at the dorm’s senator election Sunday night. The 100 pairs of eyes intently staring at her might have been daunting for most, but the confidence she gained from public speaking in high school helped her through her speech.

Now she’s more than happy to be representing her neighbors this year in ASG.

“After meeting all the people in my dorm, I got excited about doing something for them,” she said.

After hearing an inspirational speech by ASG President Jordan Heinz at the Freshman Urban Program, Polley decided ASG would offer a good opportunity to help her new friends.

Polley, who is from a suburb of Pittsburgh, gained experience as a representative and press secretary for her high school’s student government, but she’s excited to be working for a larger organization.

“I don’t think we really made a difference — it was pretty much carrying out the same functions people did year after year,” she said. “It seems like (ASG) has a lot more power.”

Polley said she thinks ASG can make a difference in students’ lives because students, professors and administrators seem to respect the organization, something she said was evident in the competition senators faced to get elected.

She had a chance to see the Senate in action Wednesday when a debate broke out about an amendment to a resolution paying tribute to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Polley said she hopes to join ASG’s Campus Relations or External Relations committee to be involved with issues and further her communication experience at the same time. Along with journalism, Polley said she might pursue a second major in history or political science and is considering a career in politics.

“I think it’s important (for people) to get involved in what’s going on in their lives and not let other people take care of it for them,” she said.