Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Unfazed by setbacks, Whitaker shifts campaign platform to safety issues

Sara Whitaker had to revamp her campaign platform in her bid for Associated Student Government’s student services vice president post with the election four days away. The sorority senator could no longer promise to meet her top platform goals because administrators beat her to it — twice.

When LaSalle Bank announced last week it would be leaving Norris University Center in June, Whitaker made finding a replacement her top platform initiative. But on Tuesday Northwestern administrators made the decision themselves, selecting U.S. Bank to fill LaSalle’s old space.

Whitaker also vowed that if elected she would work to improve shuttle services, but administrators said Wednesday that new routes — with express and expanded service — would be available for students next week.

Whitaker, a sorority senator, said she does not see the apparent resolution of two of her top platform goals as a campaign setback. She said she appreciates the administration’s responsiveness to the banking issue and that the shuttle improvements reflect the Student Services Committee’s ongoing work this year lobbying administrators.

“I don’t think it was a blow to my campaign,” said Whitaker, a Communication junior. “It brings attention and legitimacy to the ideas on the platform. When students are able to link the work of ASG to practical changes in our school community … it will bring a lot more attention and generate more interest in what the candidates are doing.”

Whitaker’s opponent in the race for student services vice president, Communication sophomore Alex Lurie, said Whitaker’s shift in priorities indicates she did not fully research her platform agenda.

“I’ve done a lot of research into my priorities,” said Lurie, a Hillel Cultural Life senator. “Making something a priority is no small feat. You really need to make sure you’ve looked into it and researched it. That’s something that my campaign has done. That may be something Sara omitted to do.”

Whitaker defended her research capabilities and reaffirmed a commitment to evaluating the needs of students. Now that banking and shuttle improvements have been made, Whitaker said, she intends to focus on issues related to student safety.

“It’s become a priority shift,” she said. “Finding a bank to have a Norris branch was obviously my first priority. Now I’m making my first priority getting on safety issues and making sure a lot of those ideas are implemented.”

In an ASG-hosted debate Tuesday night, Lurie said safety was his top goal; Whitaker — unaware that administrators had chosen a bank to replace LaSalle that afternoon — said hers was banking.

“Security has been my number one priority from the get-go,” Lurie said Thursday. “I came in having spoken with 100 students, having run it through. This is a grass roots campaign and I’ve involved so many players.”

Madeline Merritt, a Communication freshman, said Whitaker’s decision to shift her priorities midway through campaign week did not sway how Merritt would vote. She also said that safety is a weak campaign focus because administrators have already responded to safety concerns raised in the fall.

But Dan Ellman, a Medill junior, said safety should be a priority and questioned why Whitaker emphasized banking in her original platform goals.

“If you have to walk two blocks to the bank, you walk two blocks to the bank,” Ellman said. “You want to be safe doing it.”

In a bid for the Interfraternity Council endorsement, neither Lurie nor Whitaker were endorsed. According to Weinberg junior Mitch Holzrichter, IFC president and business manager of The Daily, the organization could not reach a consensus.

Lurie said IFC’s failure to endorse Whitaker demonstrates that he is a strong contender despite not being a Greek candidate.

“The fact that IFC has chosen not to endorse someone who’s not only in a sorority, but also someone who’s a sorority senator says a lot,” he said. “(It shows that) they think that even though I’m not Greek, I might be a better advocate for Greeks than Sara is.”

But Whitaker said IFC’s decision reflects that the organization did not prefer either of them.

“I think if they would’ve truly felt that one candidate could’ve done better than the other they would’ve chosen a candidate to endorse,” she said.

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Unfazed by setbacks, Whitaker shifts campaign platform to safety issues