Cilento, Vinson call for inclusion for all students


Zack Laurence/Daily Senior Staffer

SESP junior Christina Cilento (left) and McCormick junior Macs Vinson talk to antendees at the launch party for their ASG presidential campaign. The two have stressed a major focus of their campaign is improving the experiences of marginalized students.

Erica Snow, Assistant Campus Editor

Christina Cilento and Macs Vinson were taking notes.

Standing at the front of a classroom in Annenberg Hall on Wednesday night, they presented their platform for their ASG presidential run. But they also occasionally stopped to take suggestions from the roughly 50 students in attendance, swapping ideas about problems inside and outside ASG that affect marginalized students.

Cilento, who is running for president with Vinson, a McCormick junior, as her running mate, said their campaign puts those students at its center, pushing for widespread reform to make Northwestern welcoming to all students.

“I saw ASG as a tool, as a way to make incremental good on campus through projects,” Cilento, a SESP junior, said. “Having tough conversations about divestment and Unshackle NU and seeing the incredible acts that came out of those, I think I did realize, like Macs, that ASG could be used as a revolutionary tool.”

Cilento, who has been the vice president for sustainability for roughly two years, said she has spent much of her time in ASG focusing on the University’s impact on the environment. She encouraged students to write letters to administrators that urged the University to divest from fossil fuel companies.

Following the two students’ activism, they want to continue to make NU more accountable and accessible – according to their platform, they want to “unionize” students more than govern them.

“That is a core idea of our campaign in that we’re building coalitions with students,” Vinson said. “We’re not making things about us. We’re not centering us; we’re centering marginalized students.”

Beyond building relationships with student groups, including those not represented by senators in ASG, the two want to bridge the gap between students, their government and their administration. Their platform says they want to “equalize” campus, and every student “should have the same level of comfort and access to opportunity as the next student.”

Cilento alluded to the protest that disrupted the groundbreaking at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion in the fall, a protest she said she attended and was an example of how marginalized students must demand to administrators in order to be heard.

“There’s a certain favoritism on campus for the students who are from the dominant groups and get so many administrative resources,” Cilento said. “We would want to focus our organization on elevating the organizations that don’t, so students don’t have to barge in on groundbreaking ceremonies to make their voices heard for fairly simple demands.”

Vinson said bringing his “institutional knowledge” of funding has helped groups fund their projects and events. Vinson, who once sat on the B-status finances committee in ASG, said he worked specifically with student groups to get funding with InclusionNU, a University-sponsored fund that promotes identity-based programming.

When Vinson, the current vice president for student activities, joined ASG, he said it wasn’t the most welcoming place, and not many senators looked like him or shared his background.

“I hope that a black queer student who enters in the class of 2020 … feels like ASG is an organization they can join and pursue leadership,” Vinson said. “I hope that a student can see me and say ‘Oh, anybody can do this.’ … I give so much energy, so much time, so much work into this organization. I want ASG to love me back.”

Riko Ohashi, the current vice president for academics, is one of the campaign managers. She said she liked how Cilento and Vinson listened to other students when forming their platform.

“Our platform is your platform,” she told The Daily. “It’s not a Christina and Macs campaign. It’s a campaign for everybody, for marginalized communities specifically. By reaching out to marginalized communities and making sure that everybody has equal access to resources and care and support from our campus — it’s for everybody.”

Cilento and Vinson are running against Weinberg junior Joji Syed and Weinberg sophomore Archit Baskaran. Voting will begin at 5 p.m. April 7 and end at the same time the next day.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ericasnoww