Meet the Candidates: Benison Choi, Danny Kim want to fire up communication, participation

SESP junior Benison Choi and Weinberg junior Danny Kim are in the race for Associated Student Government president and vice president. The pair are running with the slogan involving you by involving ourselves.

Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

SESP junior Benison Choi and Weinberg junior Danny Kim are in the race for Associated Student Government president and vice president. The pair are running with the slogan “involving you by involving ourselves.”

Junnie Kwon, Assistant Campus Editor

SESP junior Benison Choi and Weinberg junior Danny Kim met through Associated Student Government their freshman year and have been finishing each other’s sentences ever since.

“Danny and I are very much like brothers,” Choi said.

As ambitious freshmen who wanted to make a difference on campus, Choi and Kim became ASG senators. Choi hailed from 1835 Hinman, Kim represented Ayers College of Commerce and Industry and Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering, respectively. Throughout their terms, they bonded over their disappointment with ASG. Kim recalled a clear divide between senior and freshman senators.

“I was really excited to join student government,” Kim said. “At first we both really wanted to be a part of it, and it wasn’t what we thought it was … we didn’t get to interact at the level that we wanted to.”

In order to gain an outside perspective, Choi quit ASG, and Kim significantly decreased his participation. After spending one year leading other student groups such as Camp Kesem for Choi and University Career Services for Kim, the pair decided to reunite to bring ASG back to the people.

“Being on the outside, we definitely got a different perspective of how students view ASG,” Kim said. “We want to bring something fresh.”

Their platform is a three-pronged approach to reinventing ASG. The first prong, “Enable,” involves “a lot of the tangibles,” such as actively educating students about ASG and what they can do to get involved, Choi said. The second initiative, “Engage,” calls for frequent and genuine communication with their constituents. The last approach, “Empower,” covers intangibles, such as gaining trust from students and assuring them their participation in ASG matters.

Within their three approaches they also have specific changes they want to make such as increasing and maximizing funding for B-status groups and creating a resource for ASG nonmembers who aren’t sure how to approach Senate.

Choi said he had a “fire-driven” leadership style with a focus on informal organization, culture and social interaction in ASG as a cohesive working group.

“How do you expect ASG to be united when the members do not know each other, their strengths and weaknesses?” the SESP junior asked.

When Choi attended ASG meetings as a visitor, he said it was a flashback to his experience as a freshman senator and noted the lack of chairs available for visitors.

“There’s only seats enough for senators, even though you’re supposed to be encouraging students to come,” he said. “Students don’t even know that they’re allowed to show up, which says a lot about the culture.”

However, Choi said ASG made improvements this year, including initiatives such as Campus Voice, an online platform for students to submit their opinions and ideas for ASG members to read, which he said should have been publicized more.

“Some students didn’t even know different committees existed in ASG,” Kim said. “We need to bring ASG back to students … We want you to always know that we’re always accessible, we’re open.”

Kim said the pair’s motivation came from their belief in student initiative and pride for the NU community. He said their passion for NU solidified in their meetings with a range of student groups and leaders from sports clubs to theater groups.

With the feedback, Choi said their initiatives would not “reinvent the wheel” like other candidates, but rather start with fixing and building on the resources that ASG currently has.

“Let’s stop trying to make a new wheel,” he said. “The wheel has barely started rolling this year.”