Student leaders offer agenda for next ASG president

Stephanie Haines

With Northwestern’s Associated Student Government elections approaching, several ASG members and students agreed that NU’s new ASG president must usher in increased communication and connections between NU community members.

Current ASG President Austin Young reflected on his presidential experience, saying his “make it matter” mantra infused this year’s ASG projects and mentality. He said he is proud of the overwhelming student support for the 5K intitative and the Food Truck Festival.

“It’s really exciting to see ASG move as a tangible group and change and learn and grow,” the Weinberg senior said.

In terms of the potential new candidates, Young said he wants a team in which both candidates are “100 percent on the same page,” work well together and have a united vision. Young also stressed the importance of balancing long term, abstract goals such as bolstering relations with student groups and the adminstration with short term goals such as Senate mentor programs.

“Overall the team needs to have good ideas,” Young said. “But at the end of the day, we need a strong leader to guide the executive board and work with the many components of ASG. It’s a huge organization, and the president and vice president need to coordinate all the different efforts.”

Some students said they hope the future ASG president will be someone who promotes connections between student groups, advocates for more student diversity and is recognizable on campus. “We need someone with a good personality, the ‘Morty Schapiro’ type,” Communication freshman Katherine Scott said. “Someone who makes himself known and goes to student events.”

Ani Ajith, recently elected ASG Speaker of the Senate, said one of the problems he witnesses among the student body relationship with ASG is communication. The Weinberg sophomore said much of ASG’s networking is behind the scenes, building partnerships with student groups and administrators. Students find it difficult to believe ASG plays a pivotal role in improving campus life because there seems to be minimal tangible change and most of the government’s work is completed without notifying the greater student body, Ajith said.

David Harris, ASG services vice president, said it is important to make sure students know how ASG plays a crucial role in developing the University for the student body.

“I am enough of a student to know how unpopular ASG is and how hard it is to get students to care,” the SESP sophomore said.

Harris added he hopes the student body evaluates the nuances among the teams and considers who would be most effective at accomplishing the most.

“Ten out of 10 people want a better CAESAR, and 10 out of 10 people want a better student experience,” Harris said. “So what the candidates are trying to achieve is mostly the same.”

Some of the issues Ajith said he hopes the ASG candidates will take on improving on- and off-campus housing for students and University alcohol policies.

The presidential and vice presidential candidates, who are all male and many of which are involved in the Greek community, must also answer questions of improving diversity on campus in their campaigns.

When asked what she wants to see in an ASG presidential candidate, Communication junior Jazzy Johnson, chair of the NU Coalition of Colors who ran as a vice presidential candidate during last year’s elections but was not elected, said she is looking for a candidate who is dedicated to creating a diverse student body that feels accepted on campus.

“You have to have leadership as a president who can get uncomfortable to increase the diversity here,” Johnson said. “We are looking for someone who not only embraces diversity for the sake of their platform, but who actually cares about making this a holistic experience for all students.”

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