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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Multicultural groups back Ciryam, Lurie

Multicultural groups back Ciryam, Lurie

Coalition, AASU decisions focus on issues of diversity

By Erin Stock

The Daily Northwestern

Contenders in this year’s Associated Student Government campuswide elections won endorsements Saturday from the Coalition of Color, an umbrella organization for multicultural student groups, after addressing concerns about cultural studies programs and hate crime awareness.

The coalition — a union composed of Latino student group Alianza, Asian Pacific American Coalition, black student alliance For Members Only, Muslim-cultural Students Association and South Asian Students Alliance — voted to endorse Jane Lee for president, Karla Diaz for executive vice president, Prajwal Ciryam for academic vice president and Alex Lurie for student services vice president.

Asian American Students United hosted its own set of interviews Friday and also endorsed Ciryam and Lurie, but the group chose not to endorse candidates for president or executive vice president.

Howard Lien, AASU president, said presidential candidates did not participate in the interviews and that AASU was unable to come to a consensus on who to endorse for executive vice president. AASU “strongly endorsed” Ciryam, a Weinberg sophomore, in part because of his work with the Asian-American studies program this past year.

Coalition of Color leaders endorsed the incumbent for the same reason.

Weinberg sophomore Alysa Handelsman, incoming co-president of the Latino cultural group Alianza and a delegate at the debates, said Coalition of Color was impressed with Ciryam’s work on Asian-American and Latino studies this year as academic vice president.

The coalition also endorsed Lurie, a Communication sophomore, in part because of his work this fall in response to the hate crimes on campus, Handelsman said.

Diaz, candidate for executive vice president, received the coalition’s nod based on her experience. As the outgoing Alianza president, Handelsman said Diaz has worked with T- and B-status groups and this allows her to empathize with student groups.

Coalition members decided that Lee’s performance as ASG’s external relations chairwoman this year, including her work to keep on-campus students in two Evanston voting districts, made the Weinberg junior the better candidate for president.

McCormick sophomore Andy Kaufman, Lee’s opponent, did not respond to requests to attend the debates, said Weinberg senior Tracy Carson, outgoing For Members Only coordinator.

Rohan Sharma, AASU treasurer, said his group chose to endorse candidates for the first time this year because the group wanted to see how the candidates really felt about issues important to Asian Americans at NU.

“A lot of their platforms are vague or beat around the bush so we wanted to confront them directly and ask them questions,” said Sharma, a Weinberg freshman.

Sharma added that AASU members were disappointed with some candidates’ knowledge of Asian-American issues upon questioning.

The group chose not to endorse Communication sophomore Howie Buffett for executive vice president because he could not provide specific answers to the group’s questions, Sharma said.

“With Howard we thought he was really enthusiastic but, ultimately, through his platform, we weren’t that impressed,” Sharma said. “And then during the interview he didn’t have a very thorough understanding about Asian-American issues or Latino studies on campus. He gave very vague and cliche answers.”

But Lien also said his group did not like that Diaz, a Weinberg junior and the other executive vice presidential candidate, advocated monthly auditing for T- and B-status groups — and therefore chose not to endorse either candidate.

In the race for student services vice president, Sharma said AASU endorsed Lurie over his opponent Sara Whitaker, a Communication junior, because he was more informed.

But Lien and Sharma said the controversy surrounding the transgender rally Lurie held on Wednesday — when Lurie’s campaign manager criticized the Women’s Coalition for not participating — also was a consideration in the group’s decision.

Jenna Carls, a Peace Project senator running for academic vice president against Ciryam, said despite not winning the endorsements, she thinks the experience was beneficial.

“I did get an opportunity to talk to (AASU’s) executive board and they brought up some things I really hadn’t thought of before,” said Carls, a Weinberg junior. “It was a learning experience for me.”

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Multicultural groups back Ciryam, Lurie