Shortage of ASG bills worries some senators

Janette Neuwahl

By the time of their Halloween-themed meeting last Fall Quarter, members of Associated Student Government Senate already had introduced six bills and passed two resolutions.

This year Senate has passed just two pieces of legislation.

ASG executive board members attribute the smaller number of bills this year to one less meeting, fall supplemental funding’s monopolization of Senate and a greater emphasis on research. But one senator said the executive board needs to guide senators to become better at writing legislation.

New senators were taught about how to write legislation and how ASG works at the retreat three weeks ago.

But Shepard Residential College Sen. Jon Marino, a freshman, is the only senator who has written a bill. Senate last week passed his legislation, which calls for NU to distribute safety whistles. Senators are working on individual projects that are not ready to be presented to Senate, said Kawika Pierson, ASG’s speaker of the Senate.

“I want senators to focus on legislation that does something for the entire student body,” said Pierson, a McCormick junior. “I’ve turned down a lot of legislation that is about internal ASG matters.”

External Relations Chairman Ben Cherry said senators most likely do not want to write bills without gathering background information.

“At the beginning of the year, it’s difficult to turn out legislation because it takes a few weeks of research — especially if it’s a novel idea,” said Cherry, a Weinberg junior and former two-term senator.

But Bassel Korkor, former speaker of the Senate, said he thinks this year’s lack of legislation is a result of the unfocused leadership of ASG. Last year the executive board outlined goals and policies pushing senators to gauge student complaints instead of concerning themselves with ASG’s internal issues.

“We need a goal this year to be presented to the Senate,” said Korkor, a Weinberg senior and current senator for the Middle-Eastern Students Association. “We’re just chasing our tails around so far because we are occupying ourselves with internal things like funding and the voting bill.

“These are things that on the surface appear to affect students, because they affect the way ASG functions, but nine out of 10 students who pass along Sheridan Road don’t care about this stuff.”

Senate might hear a bill at tonight’s meeting written by Korkor that could eliminate spam e-mails by giving Northwestern students filtering software. Korkor’s bill advises ASG to work with Northwestern University Information Technology to make the program accessible to students.

Other ASG officials want to see bills from last year become university policy before launching new initiatives. Cherry is trying to put a restaurant guide and landlord guide online, both created from last Fall Quarter’s legislation.

But not all senators see the few bills as a hindrance to ASG. Northwestern Community Development Corps Sen. Joe Curnow echoed Warren’s view that the quality of bills has improved, starting with Marino’s safety initiative.

“The bills this year are a lot better researched and absolutely solid,” said Curnow, an Education sophomore. “Even if there are not as many bills, our goal is to get something done. And whether a bill is behind it or not, the focus should be to get things accomplished for the student body.”