ASG members propose bills in support of trans community, affordable textbooks

David+Harris%2C+Associated+Student+Government+chief+of+staff%2C+proposes+changes+to+election+guidelines+Wednesday+night+during+ASG%E2%80%99s+fifth+Senate+meeting+of+the+quarter.+At+the+meeting%2C+the+Senate+discussed+lending+support+to+the+transgender+community+and+backing+the+Affordable+College+Textbook+Act.+
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ASG members propose bills in support of trans community, affordable textbooks

David Harris, Associated Student Government chief of staff, proposes changes to election guidelines Wednesday night during ASG’s fifth Senate meeting of the quarter. At the meeting, the Senate discussed lending support to the transgender community and backing the Affordable College Textbook Act.

David Harris, Associated Student Government chief of staff, proposes changes to election guidelines Wednesday night during ASG’s fifth Senate meeting of the quarter. At the meeting, the Senate discussed lending support to the transgender community and backing the Affordable College Textbook Act.

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

David Harris, Associated Student Government chief of staff, proposes changes to election guidelines Wednesday night during ASG’s fifth Senate meeting of the quarter. At the meeting, the Senate discussed lending support to the transgender community and backing the Affordable College Textbook Act.

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

Sean Hong/Daily Senior Staffer

David Harris, Associated Student Government chief of staff, proposes changes to election guidelines Wednesday night during ASG’s fifth Senate meeting of the quarter. At the meeting, the Senate discussed lending support to the transgender community and backing the Affordable College Textbook Act.

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

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Associated Student Government discussed Wednesday a proposal pledging its support to the transgender community by listening to individuals’ concerns and taking steps to create a more inclusive campus environment.

The bill was proposed at the Association of Big Ten Students, a student government conference with representatives from all Big Ten schools. The bill would guarantee more attention and recognition be given to the transgender community.

“Clearly Northwestern University has anti-discrimination policies,” said Petros Karahalios, the Rainbow Alliance senator and Weinberg junior. “It’s just that this would be a good symbolic gesture toward the community, which I do partially represent, that frequently feels misunderstood and underheard.”

Senate members also proposed a resolution pledging ASG’s support for the Affordable College Textbook Act, which is currently being discussed in Congress. Textbooks are priced very high due to the uncompetitive market, said Lauren Thomas, a Residential College Board senator and Weinberg freshman. This results in many students being unable to purchase all of the materials needed during their college career, she said.

Northwestern students currently spend nearly $700 more on textbooks than the average student budget for books, Thomas said. NU students spend $1,878 on textbooks on average each year. The Affordable Textbook Act includes expanding educational resources to reduce textbook costs through the implementation of a pilot grant program using open source textbooks.

“The basic idea, the gist of it is that they would be online, and therefore you could buy it once or possibly would even be free,” said Isaac Rappoport, an RCB senator and Weinberg freshman. “From then on, every time they changed it, it would update.”

The open source textbook program would create a more competitive textbook market while lowering both the cost of textbooks and the amount of new editions released through changing the licensing agreements on the books. It would also require the students and universities piloting the program to give feedback in order to adequately address problems and expand the initiative. The ASG agenda proposal included encouraging NU faculty to asses the effectiveness of the program to lower the costs of course materials for NU students.

ASG will vote on both proposals at next Wednesday’s Senate meeting on Feb. 12.

Senate also discussed proposals authored by David Harris, ASG Chief of Staff, focusing on changing certain parts of the election guidelines. The proposal would add rules meant to increase transparency, shorten campaign periods and increase voter turnout.

The Election Commission proposed additional amendments to the election guidelines, including provisions on candidate endorsements and rules relating to the use of ASG resources. Both proposals passed after being amended and will be incorporated into the official election guidelines.

The Senate also voted to allot $500 from the Senate Project Pool to the new theatre student group, Beg to Differ, to help to fund their upcoming show, Ubu Roi, and discussed changes to the ASG Constitution.

(New theater student group offers opportunities for non-majors)

 Applications for the Community Engagement Grant, an initiative designed to encourage students to become more active in the Evanston community, were also announced. The grant would require students to submit proposals for off campus projects in an effort to improve the image of NU throughout the city.

Email: rebeccasavransky2015@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @beccasavransky

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