ASG confirms seven cabinet members


Sophie Mann/The Daily Northwestern

SESP sophomore Matt Herndon speaks at Senate on Wednesday. Herndon was confirmed as vice president for accessibility and inclusion.

Shane McKeon, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government Senate confirmed seven cabinet members Wednesday, with the theme of making campus more inclusive running through the meeting.

The four-hour meeting included candidacy speeches and Q&As that often reflected on how student government can better represent the student body, particularly students who are marginalized.

SESP sophomore Matt Herndon was confirmed as vice president for accessibility and inclusion. The position, created in Spring Quarter 2012, has become one of student government’s most visible in recent years, especially as ASG has become a means for students to address issues of inclusion.

Even though ASG has such a committee, Herndon said all committees should move to be more inclusive.

“I don’t think that accessibility and inclusion is necessarily a priority for the way that ASG operates as a whole and within every committee,” Herndon said. “And I think that has to change.”

He faced a longer, tougher questioning period than most candidates and fielded questions on socioeconomic status, sexual assault and segregation.

Herndon, who said he was late because he was moderating a Sustained Dialogue meeting, said the program is valuable, but that efforts to make the University more inclusive should extend beyond discussion.

“I think the University sometimes tries to make dialogue the end goal,” he said. “Dialogue is not the end goal.”

Weinberg sophomore Isaac Rappoport was the sole nominee for vice president for student life and was rejected.

Like the other candidates, Rappoport gave a brief introduction speech and took questions from senators. He then left the room for ASG members and outside guests to discuss his candidacy.

Senator Jake Rothstein told The Daily the discussion lasted for more than a half hour and that Senate voted by secret ballot. Rappoport needed two-thirds of the vote to be confirmed.

While taking questions from senators, Rappoport said he wanted to make the student life community more diverse and let inclusiveness shape its actions more.

“How is (the committee) affecting all of the diverse communities on our campus, and how do we ensure that we’re empowering them in everything we’re doing?” he said. “When we talk about something like sexual assault, we need to make sure we’re not just talking about white, Greek, upper-middle-class Northwestern students. We need to make sure we’re talking about everyone on campus.”

Weinberg sophomore Joji Syed was confirmed as vice president for community relations, the chief liaison between ASG and Evanston.

Syed said she wants to work with Herndon to make Evanston and Chicago more accessible for low-income students.

“I want to make sure (leaving campus) isn’t just for students who can afford to pay for the L,” she said. “I really want to make sure that this is something that anyone and everyone can take advantage of.”

McCormick junior Serendi Lau was confirmed as vice president for analytics, the head of a committee largely focused on conducting ASG-sponsored surveys.

McCormick junior Michael Wang was confirmed as vice president for services, the head of a committee that, in the last year, has hosted “RedesigNU: hackathon” and overseen the creation of CourseDJ, an application designed to help students plan course schedules.

Communication freshman Simran Chadha was confirmed as chief of staff, who coordinates ASG’s recruitment efforts.

Weinberg junior Riko Ohashi was confirmed as vice president for academics, and Weinberg sophomore Christina Cilento was re-confirmed as vice president for sustainability.

After confirmations, ASG President Noah Star, a Weinberg junior, and Executive Vice President Christina Kim, a McCormick junior, introduced an amendment to ASG’s code that would make the vice president for student activities directly elected by student groups. Currently, the position is confirmed by senators.

If the amendment passes, the vote would be held during the Student Organization Symposium on May 10.

The change was proposed by Star and Kim during their campaign, fitting with their theme of returning power and voice to individual student groups from ASG.

Senate also passed a resolution supporting a pro-environmental bill in the Illinois General Assembly.

SB1485 calls for Illinois to move towards more renewable energy, specifically by ramping up its wind and solar industries.

The passage came on Earth Day.

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Twitter: @Shane_McKeon