Lagoon poll to be held online

Elaine Helm

The Northwestern Open Campus Coalition and Associated Student Government are asking students to voice their opinions about input on Northwestern’s decision to pave part of the Lagoon in an online referendum today.

The referendum should be online tonight or Thursday, ASG Technology Director Prashant Velagaleti said.

Leaders announced Tuesday night that ASG would conduct the referendum. NOCC submitted a petition Friday to ASG that more than 200 students signed. The petition is one of three possible methods for placing a referendum before students through ASG.

Accessible from ASG’s Web site and vote.asg.northwestern.edu, the referendum will ask yes-or-no questions about three issues: delaying the start of the Lagoon project planned for Friday, releasing background information and providing public comment opportunities prior to future university decisions, and giving students representation on the Board of Trustees and other decision-making bodies.

The vote follows a Senate resolution asking the university to delay construction, which allowed ASG leaders to begin pushing for delaying construction immediately, Speaker of the Senate Bassel Korkor said.

But ASG opinions carry less weight with the administration than the referendum will, NOCC President Neil Helbraun said.

“The administration doesn’t care about ASG and its actions,” said Helbraun, a Weinberg senior. “We hope that they will pay attention to hard, quantifiable evidence that students stand with us on this. I don’t want to hear from the administration again that this is not a democracy.”

Helbraun also said university officials are more likely to pay attention to the referendum than the online petition signed by more than 7,000 people after the Lagoon plan announcement, which administrators criticized for inaccurate wording and a lack of restrictions on who could sign it.

“I hope that the university will take the referendum results into account and accord the results the significance that we believe having a referendum through official channels engenders,” Helbraun said.

The referendum might have moved more quickly through ASG channels if Korkor had not been in a car accident early Sunday morning, he said. Korkor was sitting in the passenger seat of his Ford Explorer when the driver lost control on a patch of gravel and the vehicle flipped several times, he said.

Despite only minor injuries, Korkor said the accident delayed his progress in approving NOCC’s petition.

“The fact that I was delayed kind of delayed the entire process,” Korkor said. “But I still think it’s quite timely.”