ASG presidential candidates debate We Will, campus inclusivity


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

ASG executive vice presidential candidates Erik Zorn and Ronak Patel, as well as presidential candidates Julia Watson and Alex Deitchman, square off in the only campaign debate Monday night. The election will take place Wednesday.

Ciara McCarthy, Managing Editor

Associated Student Government presidential candidates Alex Deitchman and Julia Watson debated Northwestern’s “We Will” capital fundraising campaign, Senate reform and the inclusivity of the campus environment during Monday evening’s 2014 presidential debate.

About 35 people, which consisted of mostly ASG representatives, gathered to watch the presidential and executive vice presidential tickets discuss their platforms and topical issues on campus, using some student-submitted questions.

The presidential candidates’ discussion was framed largely around their different experiences. Deitchman painted himself and his running mate Ronak Patel as a duo that would fundamentally change how ASG operates. He also said his life experience would be an asset in working with NU administrators.

“When I was your age I was … being deployed to Iraq,” Deitchman said. “Eight years later, and now I’m here.”

Deitchman, 27, said his age meant administrators would take him seriously. Watson, a Weinberg junior, countered this statement saying that maturity mattered more than age when interacting with administrators. She noted she had been taken seriously in all of her past interactions with NU officials in her previous roles in ASG.

“I don’t think that’s a negative aspect of our ticket at all,” Watson said. “There’s been a lot of different conversations that I’ve been involved in that I have been taken seriously in.”

Debate moderator Mark Silberg, a Weinberg senior, asked Watson and Deitchman to respond to a Letter to the Editor in Monday’s issue of  The Daily in which an alumnus explained his reasons for abstaining from “We Will,” Northwestern’s $3.75 billion fundraising campaign. The Weinberg juniors both agreed  the expensive construction projects that the campaign will fund often do not reflect students’ needs and desires. Watson criticized “We Will” because of the minimal role that students played in developing the initiative.

(Letter to the Editor: Alum says ‘I Won’t’ to Northwestern’s ‘We Will’ campaign)

The presidential candidates also discussed the racially and culturally charged attacks that have occured on campus in recent years. Watson highlighted her campaign’s position that ASG should work toward becoming a more proactive body, instead of waiting to change policies in response to such incidents. She also pointed to her unique platform, which is organized around values instead of issues, as evidence that her ticket would not contain issues like diversity. Deitchman advocated for a more punitive response to these incidents, instead of solving them through “a culture of reconciliation.”

Patel and Erik Zorn talked about their tickets’ platforms and their strengths and experiences as leaders during the executive vice presidential debate. The Weinberg juniors were asked where they would spend a large sum of money should it be given to ASG. Zorn said he would use funds to support more services that benefit students of lower socioeconomic status. Patel referenced the need for greater support for new student groups, which both he and his running mate Deitchman have emphasized as an important issue of their campaign.

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