Candidates discuss mental wellness during first ASG presidential election forum


Oreste Visentini/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg junior and candidate for Associated Student Government president Nehaarika Mulukutla answers a question during the first ASG presidential election forum Tuesday. Along with her running mate, Weinberg junior Rosalie Gambrah, Mulukutla said their campaign focuses on the mental wellness of students on campus.

Catherine Kim, Assistant Campus Editor

Candidates for president and executive vice president of Associated Student Government, Nehaarika Mulukutla and Rosalie Gambrah, discussed student wellness during the first ASG presidential election forum Tuesday.

The Weinberg juniors spoke about their policies, which focus on mental health, sexual assault, transparency and accessibility to about 20 people in Fisk Hall. In addition to answering student questions, Mulukutla urged students to vote, despite the unopposed race, to show support of better wellness management by Northwestern administrators.

Gambrah said the campaign will focus on promoting the idea that success at NU does not depend on sacrificing one’s mental health. “Proactive actions” toward mental health should be made, she said.

“We treat mental hygiene like dental hygiene,” Gambrah said. “Just like you brush your teeth every day, you should be able to do things in your time to focus on your mental illness.”

To improve mental health, Mulukutla said she would promote NU Listens, a phone peer listening service, as Counseling and Psychological Services “is currently overworked, understaffed and unable to serve the entire student body.” She also said she would work to have CAPS counselors in the Multicultural Center, Black House and Women’s Center to serve a broader group of students.

Medill freshman Victoria Alfred-Levow, who attended the forum, said she appreciated the campaign’s approach to making mental wellness a daily routine, rather than a subject to be addressed only when it becomes a crisis.

“Mental wellness is really important to me because I’m a freshman and I’m already like, ‘How am I going to survive the rest of my time at Northwestern?’” she said. “And I think their idea about trying to make it less of a crisis mode thing and more of an everyday thing is really important to me.”

To increase inclusivity and accessibility, Mulukutla said she would continue to reach out to students on campus. She said many students fail to recognize the role ASG plays in students’ lives, and the only way to solve this is more outreach.

Mulukutla said she is looking to end the dry campus policy at NU, cut “consumption of alcohol in male-dominant spaces,” prevent sexual assault on campus and improve safety.

“The only way we can start to work on issues that stem from alcohol consumption … is if the University admits that alcohol is being consumed,” she said.

In response to the recent allegations of sexual assault at Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and another, unnamed fraternity, Mulukutla said she would try to address the frustration around Title IX investigations and use the momentum surrounding the issue to actively pursue changes with administrators.

Though she and her running mate comprise the only ticket, Mulukutla still urged students to vote to have their voices be heard by NU administrators.

Mulukutla said it is time people tell the administration it needs to consider students’ wellness and look at them as more than statistics.

“Your vote is your voice; your voice is important,” she said. “Your voice is what we want to center this on. This isn’t about ASG, this isn’t about our campaign, this isn’t about us. It’s about holistic wellbeing.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Nehaarika Mulukutla’s position on dry campuses. Mulukutla is working to end the dry campus policy. The Daily regrets this error.

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