ASG academic, student life VP races kick off

Lauren Kelleher

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They won’t be at the forefront of the mudslinging or violation filing during this year’s Associated Student Government campaign season, but this year’s candidates for academic vice president and student life vice president, when elected, may have the most impact on Northwestern undergraduates.

The four candidates want to do everything from moving University Career Services to a more central location on campus to creating off-campus, university-owned housing.

Squaring off in the race for academic vice president are Weinberg junior Zach Wittchow and Weinberg sophomore Gabrielle Daniels.

Wittchow applied to several vacant committee spaces in the past but was never selected. After returning from study abroad this winter, he said he decided to try and get involved with ASG again and applied for the academic committee at the end of the term.

“When I met with Mo (Safdari) to review my application, he said it sounded like I wanted to be a leader on campus and maybe I should run for his position,” Wittchow said.

Pillars of Wittchow’s campaign include name-blind test grading to avoid bias and creating an academic information packet for freshmen to acquaint them with campus career services.

For name-blind grading, Wittchow proposes labeling tests with student ID numbers instead of names.

“I’m still trying to see if we can get University approval to make such a policy,” Wittchow said. “If not, we could ask individual professors to implement this in their classrooms.”

Daniels became involved in ASG in the spring of her freshman year as the Freshman Quad senator. She chose to join the academic committee and has since been involved in several major projects, most notably InterNU and ASG Faculty Honor Roll, she said.

She said her ongoing involvement with InterNU, which is co-sponsored by career services and ASG, contributed to one of her main platform initiatives: moving the career services office closer to the center of campus, like the other academic advising buildings on Sheridan Road.

Daniels said she is also interested in pushing through an Islamic Studies program at NU.

“I have already worked on half of these projects currently before our committee,” she said. “I understand the cohesion of the group and have already spent time building relationships with administrators.”

Running for student life vice president are McCormick sophomore Katie Bradford and Weinberg freshman Jonathan Friedman.

Friedman, who currently serves as Freshman Quad president, said he decided to run because he would be in a better position to effect change as a member of the ASG student life committee.

“Everyone I talked to in the administration said that I couldn’t do anything about (dorm-related) problems in my position,” Friedman said. “I ended up meeting with (ASG presidential candidates) Alessio (Manti) and Claire (Lew) so that they could get my opinion on their platforms. I realized I had things I could do as student life director.”

One of the main tenets of Friedman’s platform is pushing for University-owned off-campus housing.

“Higher quality, lower rent and safer,” he said.

Friedman also wants to advocate a safer alcohol policy.

“The current policy is backward and dangerous compared to what other universities have,” he said. “We need to change it and get parties back on campus.”

His opponent, Bradford, brings a year of experience on ASG as a senator for the Ayers College of Commerce and Industry and Slivka Hall to her candidacy. She joined the student life committee last spring.

“Student life is all the things I enjoy talking and complaining about with my friends,” she said. “I liked the opportunity to do something about it.”

A new initiative by the student life committee, which Bradford supports, includes improving University dining options, she said.

“We have developed a good relationship with Sodexo this year,” she said. “And they are interested in our feedback on how the meal plan structure works, dining hall hours, quality of food and how much trouble people with allergies have.”

ASG candidates will have a week to campaign until the April 14 elections, at which time students will vote for ASG president and vice president as well.lkelleher@u.northwestern.eduLilia Hargis contributed reporting.