ASG Senate confirms new co-vice president for student life


SESP sophomore Ben Powell is confirmed as Associated Student Government co-vice president for student life. Powell had previously served as a residential senator and a senator for a coalition of social justice groups.

Fathma Rahman, Development and Recruitment Editor

Associated Student Government confirmed SESP sophomore Ben Powell as a new co-vice president for student life at Senate, two weeks after the previous one resigned.

Powell was unanimously nominated by the selection committee and confirmed at Senate on Wednesday night. In the past, he has served as a residential senator and a senator for a coalition of social justice groups.

“I’ve gotten to work with people on a lot of projects I’ve been really passionate about in ASG,” Powell said when addressing Senate before his confirmation. “I’ve gotten to see the hard work students are doing to improve campus, and I’ve also gotten to see some of the real institutional challenges ASG has in helping these students and addressing their concerns.”

Powell said he applied for the position because many projects he has worked on involve student life, including talks with Real Food at NU about putting groceries and produce in C-stores and discussions with the Center for Awareness, Response and Education about putting up posters with resources for survivors of sexual assault.

Powell said he has experience with grassroots community advocacy and can use the skills he learned about community organizing in his new position.

“(It’s) not just how we’re going to manage this committee and produce these projects, but really how are we going to build student power (and) how are we going to bring people together around the goals we want to accomplish?” he said.

In response to a question about the open student group initiative, Powell said clubs are an important part of the student experience and, as such, need to be provided with better resources, such as more funding and greater access to performance spaces.

Powell also addressed exclusivity, saying some student groups may need to be small to maintain cohesivity. But he said it can be “incredibly demoralizing” for new students entering “intense” acceptance processes, creating issues of equity and fairness in terms of access.

“The solution is to go to clubs and say, ‘How can we make this more open?’” Powell said. “Just talk to students and move toward our overall goal of open membership in as many clubs as can possibly have it, and also do that in a way that is driven by clubs themselves rather than (an) open club policy.”

SESP junior Sumaia Masoom, who previously held the position, stepped down citing mental health reasons.

“I have spent the last quarter and the summer promoting a platform of self-care, pushing to detoxify campus culture and being the world’s biggest hypocrite in putting my own mental health and emotional stability last — all for what, at the end of the day, is a student group,” Masoom said at Senate on Oct. 19.

Weinberg senior Isaac Rappoport also introduced legislation to create a committee to review the state of mental health on campus and make suggestions on how to improve related advocacy.

The committee wants to address the subject in a more holistic manner to put together a large-scale report and provide recommendations, Rappoport said. It is already working on the matter with other ASG committees and student groups, he said.

Erica Snow contributed reporting.

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