ASG Notebook

Libby Nelson

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Student government is now happening at the push of a button.

ASG went high-tech last Wednesday with the inauguration of its new clicker system, which allows senators to vote by twitching their fingers and eliminates standing up if clarification is necessary.

The clickers have the look of chunky, fluorescent orange remote controls. With 38 senators and a $1,500 price tag for the system, each senator’s gadget rings up at about $37 – about as much as a new pair of iPod earphones and not too far short of one Northwestern student’s yearly Student Activities Fee.

Voting with a clicker entails aiming it exactly at a target smaller than an average CD. A test run took 15 minutes Wednesday night until senators figured out the system.

“I move we go back to the old method!” a senator yelled at one point.

The system seems to resist oversimplification, or even productivity. With 10 buttons labeled with letters, senators options go way beyond “yes” or “no.” Currently A is “yes,” B is “no” and C is “abstain,” leaving senators with seven buttons to press so that nothing at all will happen.

It might not matter, though: Because the projector in the Northwestern Room, where the Senate holds its meetings, costs $100 per week to use, no one will be able to see how senators vote anyway.

So whatever happened to ASG publicly lobbying the Evanston City Council about the new landlord ordinance?

Members showed up at the Monday meeting but reportedly were silent – and senators called them out on it last week. The reason? Because ASG’s representatives were five minutes late to the council meeting, they didn’t get signed up to speak that night and so couldn’t open their mouths as lobbyists.

External Relations chairman Ravi Singh maintains that backstage efforts went according to ASG’s plan, including clarifying the main point of contention with aldermen. Singh and President Jay Schumacher both apologized for the slip. But the officers’ failure to fulfill their obligations means the Rules Committee will look into what happened.

On the desk in Schumacher’s office in Norris University Center are – along with folders and handbooks of ASG policy – a few self-help books, including the intriguingly titled “ADD and Relationships.”

So is the ASG guru looking to other gurus for advice? Are self-help principles discreetly applied during meetings? And do other ASG members ever circulate the books in a sort of lending library?

With the amount of time they spend in the office, they might need all the help they can get.

– Libby Nelson

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