Outdoor community spaces chosen for 10K Initiative


Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

More picnic tables and benches will be installed around campus after that proposal won $10,000 from ASG's 10K Initiative.

Jeanne Kuang and Joseph Diebold

Northwestern’s Division of Student Affairs and Associated Student Government will team up to spend $10,000 on installing more picnic tables and benches around campus after the proposal won the 10K Initiative, ASG announced Thursday.

After students submitted more than 500 ideas to improve campus life during Fall Quarter, ASG’s 10K Initiative Committee pared the options down to four: outdoor community spaces, a Willie the Wildcat statue, front-end composting and an outdoor film series. About 2,000 students participated in the voting, which took place March 11 to 22.

“Creating outdoor community spaces will hopefully prove to be a great opportunity for students to better utilize our shared space and gorgeous campus,” ASG president Victor Shao, a Weinberg senior, said in a news release.

ASG executive vice president Brad Stewart said this year’s 10K program received more than three times the number of submissions and more than twice the number of votes of last year’s initiative.

“It shows that students really do want to engage and really do want to leave an impact on Northwestern,” the Medill senior said.

Weinberg senior Amalia Namath, a member of the 10K Initiative Committee, said she was not surprised by the winner given that the committee had received many similar submissions. She said she hopes to see the campus community grow with more shared spaces.

“I remember when The Rock had that bench added in front of it,” she said. “That really helped people who wanted to hold bake sales or guard The Rock, and it just became a little bit more of a community space. Hopefully we’ll see that happening more with the results of the 10K.”

Stewart said he believes the addition of more outdoor benches will help build stronger bonds on campus.

“ASG’s mission is connecting Northwestern,” he said. “Physical spaces are not the entirety of that, but they definitely contribute to that.”

The 10K Initiative became the subject of controversy when Student Affairs only agreed to contribute its $5,000 half of the $10,000 funding to initiatives it considered community-building, leaving the front-end composting option to be funded by only ASG’s $5,000.

Stewart said it was difficult to tell whether or not this impacted the ultimate winner.

“A lot of students voted for the outdoor community spaces,” he said. “It’s a great initiative that’s going to leave a mark on Northwestern for many years to come.”

— Jeanne Kuang and Joseph Diebold

This post has been updated with comments from Stewart and Namath.