Restructuring debate divides, drives ASG as new president takes over

Safiya Merchant

At Wednesday’s Associated Student Government meeting, legislation passed to aid a Medill alumnus turned Libyan prisoner.

As one of the first action items of the evening, ASG senator and Daily staffer Ani Ajith proposed emergency legislation calling for ASG to promote awareness of and gather community support of James Foley (MSJ ‘08), who is currently detained in Brega, Libya, by pro-Gadhafi forces. The bill unanimously passed in Senate, and flyers advertising the online petition to bring him home were passed out to senators to post throughout campus.

The rest of the night consisted of Senate reconstruction discussions as four ASG members proposed different solutions to increase the efficiency of ASG.

The first solution, proposed by Weinberg freshman and ASG senator Aaron Zelikovich, reduced the number of senators from 49 to 45. It also emphasized the increase of senator accountability because it made losing seats easier. If organizations leave their seats vacant, Zelikovich said, other organizations can fill their place instead.

Unlike Zelikovich’s solution, former ASG President Claire Lew’s second solution called for the creation of a Senate with 20 members who would be elected by the entire campus. This, she stated, will help represent more NU students and bring more issues to the table.

“I hope that future generations will seek out the most thoughtful and pragmatic process in terms of providing equitable representation, especially to the students who aren’t in the room, who don’t know Senate exists,” the SESP senior said.

Ajith also passed a Senate reconstruction solution, which decreased Residential College Board/Residence Hall Association senators from 15 to seven, Greek senators from 12 to eight and off-campus senators from eight senators representing students living in off-campus residences to two senators from each class in total. The Weinberg freshman planned to negotiate with ASG members about the future number of student group senators.

Unlike the other three solutions, which were all proposed as official pieces of legislation, ASG senator and Weinberg sophomore Isaac Hasson brought a new idea that proposed to consolidate all the progressive organization senators into one senator and do the same for all minority organization senators. His idea also included senators from each school, two senators to represent both North campus dorms and South campus dorms, and an at-large caucus of two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.

Despite the heated discussion surrounding Senate reconstruction reform, a move to create a task force designed to analyze and improve the solutions was approved by Senate. The idea was proposed by Weinberg junior and ASG senator Francis Brooke.

Some senators saw the task force as a necessary step.

“I feel like the task force is a step in the right direction,” ASG senator and Communication sophomore Brandon McNamara said. “This is going to be a long process, and it requires input from all parts of ASG.”

While some thought the task force was the best decision, others were not so supportive.

“I believe it’s avoiding the problem,” Zelikovich said. “The more we continue to harp on internal stuff, the less we can do to improve student life at Northwestern,” he said.

He also added that senators have had the chance to voice their opinions on Senate reconstruction but have taken “a backseat” until now.

Ajith also said the new task force needs to be proactive and actually create solutions.

“I think we missed an opportunity to take action when we could have,” he said. “At the same time, we have created another opportunity to take action. We have to make sure that this new opportunity doesn’t get bogged down in ego, politics and all the bad things ASG has been known for.”

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