ASG Senate passes resolution on sexual assault accountability after last week’s walkout
March 2, 2017
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Associated Student Government Senate passed a resolution Wednesday demanding accountability for campus sexual assault and calling for students and organizations found responsible to be removed from Northwestern.
Senator Lars Benson delivered a speech at the beginning of the meeting, condemning the actions of former IFC senator Mike Seethaler and three substitutes, who are all members of SAE, for walking out of last week’s Senate, breaking quorum and forcing the vote on the amendment to be postponed until this week.
“They turned their backs on survivors, they turned their backs on allies,” Benson said. “This should outrage us. This is not in the spirit of Senate; this is not in the spirit of Northwestern.”
The vote was conducted in a roll call manner with 39 votes in favor of the resolution and two abstentions.
Seethaler, who could not be reached for comment by the time of publication, told The Daily during Senate on Feb. 22 that the substitute senators walked out because they were not “necessarily comfortable” having their names attached to the vote. He said he objected to the decision to conduct the vote by roll call because he preferred to cast his vote anonymously.
“(The walkout) didn’t have anything to do with the bill itself,” he said. “It was simply the choice to have the vote done in a roll call manner.”
ASG and the Interfraternity Council released a joint statement on Monday announcing that IFC had removed Seethaler from his role as senator. He will be replaced by a member of the IFC executive board until a permanent replacement is named.
“While members of SAE may have been personally uncomfortable with voting on the resolution, we prioritize the comfort of survivors on this campus, and, for that reason, we condemn the actions of Senator Seethaler and the other substitutes,” the statement reads.
The statement also says Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity will not have representation in Senate while it is under a “cease-and-desist” order from its national headquarters.
The resolution comes after an order from SAE national headquarters in Evanston to indefinitely cease operations at the Northwestern chapter after the University notified students Feb. 6 about an anonymous report alleging multiple sexual assaults and potential druggings at the SAE house. The University announcement also said it received an anonymous report alleging that a female student was sexually assaulted and possibly given a date rape drug at a second, unnamed fraternity house in early February. The University has not made public any updates on the investigation since the Feb. 6 notification.
At least 41 out of 51 ASG senators attended Senate on Wednesday, more than any other Senate session this quarter. Seethaler and the substitute senators — one Panhellenic Association substitute and two IFC substitutes — were able to stop Senate from voting on the amendment because there were only 25 senators and substitutes at Senate at the time. Senate needs 25 or more senators and substitutes present to maintain quorum and conduct meetings.
Senate also passed a resolution relating to the expression of free speech on campus. The resolution calls on Northwestern to allow speakers of all viewpoints to speak on campus, citing situations in the past where invited speakers have cancelled events due to hecklers or situations where speakers did not feel comfortable expressing their views at NU. Senate also elected Isabel Anaya to the Rules Committee, filling the seat left empty by Daniella Lumpkin’s election as parliamentarian.
Correction: A previous version of the caption on this story misstated Lars Benson’s year. Benson is a junior. The Daily regrets the error.