Julia Watson, Erik Zorn promote collaboration and student communication


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Weinberg juniors Julia Watson and Erik Zorn give a presentation outlining their campaign platform. The ASG candidates held a meeting with several dozen supporters in attendance Thursday evening.

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

Associated Student Government presidential candidate Julia Watson and running mate Erik Zorn believe their strong listening skills, commitment to students campus-wide and comprehensive platform make them unique and compelling nominees for the position.

The two are running under the slogan “Engage and Empower.” Watson said giving students the ability to participate and to voice their opinions was one of the most important missions for the pair, and they wanted their campaign name to reflect those ideas.

The pair built their campaign on eight core values, under which they define specific projects and ideas they want to address. In past years, candidates have generally organized their campaigns around specific issues. The values they put forth included accessibility, accountability, engagement and participation among others. Watson said after analyzing several platforms from past years and speaking with student groups across campus, they decided this would be the best way to organize their goals.

“All the (past) platforms seemed to break things down into areas,” Watson said. “They were very much like boxes and Erik and I don’t really think people’s experiences should be pigeon-holed into just one area.”

When the two began their campaign plans in November, Watson and Zorn had already held several campus leadership positions both in and outside of ASG. Most recently serving as the ASG public relations vice president, Watson said she was influential in organizing the ASG Roundtables and the “The Campus Loop” email list. She also is a member of the Campus Coalition on Mental Health. Zorn said although he had worked on projects through ASG, he has also been heavily involved in Northwestern Community Development Corporation and the Residential College Board.

“I think one of the greatest strengths of the two of us running together is just the fact that we do come from very different perspectives of Northwestern but at the same time have the common goal of wanting to improve Northwestern,” Zorn said.

Watson said in addition to being members of a variety of different groups across campus, she and Zorn complemented each other well, noting she usually looked at projects in a more creative and “big-picture” way, whereas Zorn is often more analytical.

“We found that when we were working on projects that we could both kind of take a different perspective, bringing it into when we were meeting with people, student groups, students, administrators,” Watson said.

Among their other initiatives, the pair is looking to promote a program called 3 + E, which would award students credit for extracurricular activities. Watson said they had looked into the idea and held focus groups last quarter focused on how students learn to gauge whether or not the idea would be plausible. She said that through their experiences, they realized that “not all learning happens in the classroom,” and they want to give students this option.

Other goals include improving CTECs, creating forums for discussing student problems and encouraging the administration to take a proactive rather than reactive approach.

“It tends to be that students get to this breaking point and then there’s tons of protests and we need to fix this and the University will only react when students get so up in arms so I’d like to see kind of a little bit of a shift through these forums and through this feedback for us to start building an area especially in socioeconomic status and diversity and inclusion,” Watson said. “I just think we can be more proactive in these areas.”

The pair emphasized their constant commitment to students, noting their campaign included interactive elements in order to continuously encourage feedback campus-wide.

Public relations co-manager Jaime Toplin, a Medill junior, said after working with Watson for several quarters on the ASG public relations committee, she felt Watson had the potential to excel in the job and thought Zorn complemented her well.

“I think the two of them have the leadership ability, have the attitude, sense of humor,” Toplin said. “They have really great ideas to make the campus the best it can be.”

Toplin said their campaign structure and their plan of tackling campus problems make them unique when compared to the other pair of candidates running.

Prior to the election, the pair said they scheduled meetings with residential colleges, fraternities and sororities and other student groups, created an interactive banner for students to share their thoughts and encouraged feedback through social media platforms.

“You really have to throw yourself out there to run,” Watson. “Putting yourself out there is not always the easy thing to do, but its the right thing to do if you really want to develop a platform that is actually holistic and actually does get to the root of the problems. Erik and I have spent a really large amount of time—facetime—with students about this and we’re excited to keep doing that and we think our platform reflects all of that time and effort that we’ve put into it.”

Email: rebeccasavransky2015@u.northwestern
Twitter: @beccasavransky