Associated Student Government members to offer multiple Senate reform proposals


Sarah Nelson/Daily Senior Staffer

Associated Student Government chief of staff David Harris speaks at the beginning of Wednesday’s Senate meeting. The SESP senior discussed a new approach to Senate reform currently in its early stages.

Sophia Bollag, Copy Chief

Associated Student Government chief of staff David Harris proposed a new approach to Senate reform at the organization’s meeting Wednesday.

“Every year since I’ve been here, there’s been a relatively significant effort geared towards rethinking the way that Senate is structured,” the SESP senior said. “But oftentimes they’ve fallen short of the more substantial overhaul that they’ve been seeking.”

(In Focus: Can ASG be changed?)

Harris said after the informal team working on reform hears feedback from senators and students outside ASG, it will develop several proposals. He said in the past, those trying to reform Senate had come up with just one final proposal, which left senators with no options. He said he thinks presenting senators with multiple proposals will solve this problem and be more likely to result in significant change.

“Instead of just voting on one, we’ll think about this process holistically and vet each one,” he said.

Harris said he hopes to start gathering opinions next week. Several attempts at Senate reform have bubbled up in the past few years. However, none resulted in the significant overhaul intended by former ASG president Claire Lew, who proposed during the 2010-11 academic year to cut the number of senators from 49 to 20 and move to a system of campus-wide elections. A separate proposal, to shift to a model of senators elected by academic schools and “campus life” constituencies, was sent to the rules committee in June.

ASG executive board members also introduced funding for B- and T-status groups, which will be voted on next week. In his introduction of the Student Groups Committee’s funding recommendations, student groups vice president Neel Lalkiya emphasized that only $100 of funding is being recommended for storage for the five groups that requested money for that category. Although in the past the SAFC typically has recommended $350 per group for storage requests, the Weinberg senior said a tight budget this year forced the proposed reduction.

Senate spent the bulk of its meeting weighing whether to allocate $50 from its Project Pool to the Northwestern Science and Policy Action Network for cupcakes at a talk the group is hosting. After more than 20 minutes of discussion, Senate voted unanimously to fund the cupcakes.

Senate in brief:

  • Chief of staff David Harris introduced a new plan for Senate reform.
  • Public relations vice president Julia Watson, a Weinberg junior, announced the first email from ASG’s new email list Campus Loop would be sent out after the meeting.
  • Student groups vice president Neel Lalkiya introduced funding recommendations for B- and T-status groups, which Senate will vote on next week.
  • Senate allocated $50 from its Project Pool to the Northwestern Science and Policy Action Network for food at an event the group is holding.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the committee that makes funding recommendations for B- and T-status groups. The committee is the Student Groups Committee. The Daily regrets this error.

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Twitter: @sophiabollag