Students propose Northwestern support of faculty work against Ebola in West Africa

Olivia Exstrum, Assistant Campus Editor

Representatives from various student groups presented a proposal Wednesday asking that Associated Student Government recommend to Northwestern that NU-affiliated health personnel continue to receive salary and benefits even if they choose to work in West Africa to assist with the Ebola crisis.

“The impetus for the bill came from the acknowledgement that universities have remained silent as Ebola continues to devastate countries in West Africa,” Weinberg senior Michael Miller said. “It just seemed a little strange no one was stepping up and addressing it.”

In addition to continuing salary and benefits, the bill emphasizes the need for clear University support and continued quality coverage and care of patients whose healthcare providers choose to go abroad. Miller said although it is unlikely many healthcare professionals will choose to go abroad, it makes a “strong statement” from the University to support those who do.

During the meeting, ASG executive vice president Erik Zorn also outlined the application and selection process for the student engagement stipend, a need-based fund approved last spring intended to support students in leadership positions. The Weinberg senior said the committee, approved in October, will evaluate applications from a “need-blind perspective.” The group will look at the applications and then create a ranked list of candidates for the $500 stipends. The Center for Student Involvement will then give students a score based on their financial need, and will use both the committee’s list and the financial scores to choose stipend recipients.

Zorn said if students participate in work-study, the stipend won’t affect their financial aid package. However, if students make a substantial income outside of work-study, their aid may be slightly affected if awarded a stipend.

Communication junior Amanda Walsh, president of the NU’s chapter of Quest Scholars, also spoke at the meeting about the group’s history, programming and future goals, including listing textbook prices on CAESAR. Walsh also discussed the Advocacy Committee, which kicked off in October.

“The bulk of what the Advocacy Committee does is to work with administrators and student leaders to make sure we have a supportive community for low-income students,” Walsh said, adding that the committee will train Peer Advisers in the future.

Walsh said because not all group members at NU are Questbridge scholarship recipients, the group hopes to “re-brand” the chapter and possibly rename it. The latter may be difficult because Quest Scholars is a national organization, she said.

SESP junior Chris Harlow, student life vice president, and Medill senior Jaime Toplin, public relations vice president, introduced a working group to analyze and improve the ways ASG elicits feedback. After a vote, the proposal failed to move to old business and will therefore be voted on next week.

Senate also passed a proposal to make amendments to outdated sections of the Student Groups Committee Guidelines. They also passed an amendment requiring that submissions of any monetary amount to the Wild Ideas Fund be presented to Senate. The previous guidelines required only funds more than $150 to be brought up to Senate. Senate approval is still only required for fund requests of more than $500.

Funding for B-status groups was also discussed. McCormick senior Alex Van Atta, ASG vice president for student groups, said the committee received about 60 applications and is recommending $17,000 to be allocated to the groups this quarter. Senate will discuss funding allocation at next week’s meeting on Nov. 19.

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