Few attend ASG off-campus housing forum

Katie Glueck

The Associated Student Government held its first open forum to address the challenges facing students who live off-campus at Norris University Center on Wednesday evening.

A panel of five ASG senators answered questions from the two students who showed up.

“I came because I was interested in hearing what other people have to say, and I have real issues with the transportation from on-campus to off-campus,” said Music and Weinberg sophomore Rachel Waxman, the only non-ASG attendee.

The event was the brainchild of ASG’s executive board, which asked that each Senate caucus hold a meeting to reach out to constituents, said Patrick Dawson, an off-campus ASG senator and leader of the off-campus caucus.

“Our goal is to get a sense of what the students’ biggest issues are, and to prioritize our goals,” the Weinberg junior said. “It’s for students. We want to find out what they want from us.”

Although Dawson’s expectations for attendance were low, he said he hopes future meetings will draw more participants.

“If we keep doing these meetings every quarter, more people will see, ‘Oh, they actually listened to those four or five people who showed up,'” he said.

At the meeting, a panel of five off-campus ASG senators facilitated a conversation that addressed resources for moving, transportation, safety and improving relations between Northwestern students and the Evanston community.

“I had a lot of problems finding a flat-mate when I moved off campus,” said Muhammad Safdari, a Weinberg junior who serves on ASG’s academic committee. “I tried CraigsList and was contacted by a widow who wanted to start her life over. I’d like to have more resources for finding Northwestern roommates.”

Dawson said establishing an ASG-operated roommate search would be high on his to-do list. He said his caucus has already launched initiatives to inform students about the process of moving off-campus, including constructing an off-campus housing Web site. But he said he wants to improve the quality and accuracy of the Web site, and to find new ways to share information with students.

“I’d like to start fact-checking the Web site in terms of stating what rent is and what amenities are available,” Dawson said. “I also like the idea of a timeline, to tell students who are thinking about moving off campus when they should do things. The earlier, the better.”

Other ideas discussed included block parties at the beginning of the school year so that off-campus students can meet their neighbors, a “SafeWalk” where athletes would be available to walk students home from the library and more shuttle stops and student parking.

“We had this meeting because we want people living off-campus and people interested in living off-campus to learn more about the opportunities available to them,” said Steve Eilers, a Weinberg senior and ASG off-campus senator.

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