ASG proposes changes to Greek, student group, off-campus representation


Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Senators Kevin Luong and Erik Baker describe the underrepresentation of multicultural Greek associations. Changes to ASG constitution and code were introduced to give all four Greek associations two representatives each.

Erica Snow, Reporter

A proposed change to Associated Student Government code and constitution would equalize representation among all four Greek councils and increase the number of student group senators while decreasing off-campus senators.

Currently, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association each have five senators, while the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council each get one. The changes would instead allot two representatives for each Greek council.

“As ASG, we’ve done a poor job of addressing and engaging with both multicultural Greek caucuses,” Weinberg senior Erik Baker, senator for four sexual health and assault-related groups, said. “They are incredibly valued members of the community, and we feel that them feeling like they are not on an equal playing field with the other Greek senators and addressing that is a first step towards rehabilitating that relationship.”

Baker co-authored the legislation with Weinberg senior Kevin Luong, the senator for four Asian-identity based groups.

The ASG constitution currently allows for 51 senators. By decreasing Greek representation by four seats and off-campus representation by two seats, the proposed changes would add six seats to the 15-seat student group caucus.

Student groups are “one of the best representative units,” according to the legislation. Baker said the high demand for representation has made many groups form “uncomfortable coalitions” and share a seat, preferring that over absence of representation. Allotting six instead of eight off-campus seats would make each seat more competitive, Baker said, acknowledging that ASG has had trouble filling seats in the past.

However, senators voiced concerns that PHA and IFC involve more students than MGC and NPHC and need more representation. Nick McCombe, Greek caucus whip, said the changes are misplaced.

“The spirit of this bill was designed to increase attendance, not to improve representation in the Senate,” McCombe told The Daily. “There are a lot of people that are being double-counted. Generally, Greeks aren’t a part of that group.”

McCombe added he thought people living in residence halls involved in student groups are most represented. Will Pritzker, an off-campus senator, agreed and said he believed students should be equally represented based on population.

“The best thing you can do to represent people equally is to use actual numbers,” Pritzker, a Weinberg junior, told The Daily. He also voiced concerns about the decrease in off-campus senators.

There were 1,632 students registered in PHA and 1,408 in IFC chapters last year, according to Northwestern’s Winter 2015 Student Affairs Assessment. That year, 90 students were involved in MGC and 26 students were involved in NPHC.

Unlike other legislation, changes to the constitution and code take two weeks instead of one. An open forum will be held sometime in the next two weeks, open to the public, to address concerns about representation. Senate will vote on the changes Feb. 17.

ASG also approved changes to the elections commission guidelines. The commission, led by Weinberg junior Lauren Thomas, serves as an oversight committee during spring campaigns for president and executive vice president. Included in the changes is the provision that the current president and executive vice president will no longer be able to formally or informally endorse a candidate, holding them to the same standard as the elections commission.

Senator Anna DiStefano, who represents the social justice coalition, was also approved to fill an open position on the A- and B-status finances selection committee.

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