Editorial: Bellassai and Johnson are best for ASG, NU

The Daily Northwestern

Editor’s Note: Our endorsements were decided by the unanimous vote of the five permanent members of The Daily’s Editorial Board.

The Daily endorses Matt Bellassai and Jazzy Johnson for ASG president and vice president.

Given the similar platforms of this year’s candidates, this endorsement reflects The Daily’s focus on execution rather than politics. Bellassai and Johnson’s internal and extensive knowledge of ASG better enable them to affect the real and substantive changes absent in previous administrations. The pervasive apathy among the student body with regards to the value and efficacy of ASG is something that can only be fixed with concrete changes rather than cosmetic fixes.

The Daily acknowledges the many student group endorsements of Austin Young and Ash Jaidev, and values the pair’s emphasis on connecting with students. But the student body’s willingness to invest in and engage with ASG hinges on the organization’s ability to prove its own value. ASG’s external image is a product of its internal efficiency.

Bellassai has served on the ASG Executive Board for the past two years and has been involved with ASG since his freshman year. During this time he has contributed to several campus reform measures, including the establishment of LaundryView, an online laundry-tracking service, as well as extensive shuttle route improvements and proposed meal plan adjustments.

The Daily, having followed the ongoing projects and endeavors of ASG, understands the persistence required to implement changes, both small and large, like the ones Bellassai has helped realize. The process of not just conceptualizing legislation but following it through to implementation is essential to ASG’s success.

Young and Jaidev are campaigning with the slogan ‘make it matter,’ but before ASG can ‘make it matter’ there needs to be a tangible ‘it.’ Where ASG candidates often fail is in the execution of their admirable but sometimes abstract proposals. Because of their experience and proven record within the organization, we believe that Bellassai and Johnson have the potential to make ASG consequential and constructive.

The different approaches between the two campaigns were illustrated when the presidential candidates answered a question during Monday’s debates about how they would spend their first day as ASG president. Bellassai said he would spend the first day emailing campus groups while Young said he would lock himself out of the ASG office for the first 24 hours and talk to students. The Daily understands the appeal that Young’s approach may hold for students, but believes that Bellassai’s approach speaks to his pragmatism and understanding of the legwork the presidency entails.

Bellassai and Johnson will capitalize on their respective talents and experiences, with Johnson focusing on community outreach and Bellassai working on producing and passing legislation. It may not be a traditional approach, but The Daily believes this is a wise and innovative division of labor. Outreach and policy are not mutually exclusive tasks and both Bellassai and Johnson are capable of addressing either responsibility. But the clear division of priorities will enable students to hold ASG’s administration accountable on an individual-level as to the implementation and success of both initiatives.

In evaluating the candidates, The Daily urges students to consider that the excitement and idealism inherent to any campaign period will soon fade. The Daily is confident that NU students’ perennial devolution into apathy can be countered by Bellassai and Johnson’s commitment not just to making it matter, but making it happen.

The Daily will not be running endorsements of the unopposed, incumbent candidates for ASG student life vice president and academic vice president. The candidates for each position, McCormick junior Katie Bradford and Weinberg junior Gabby Daniels, will be profiled in an article in Wednesday’s edition of The Daily so that voters can view the candidates’ platforms.