Editorial: The Daily Northwestern calls for critical election engagement, endorses Mulukutla, Gambrah

The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board

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One ticket stands for the presidency and executive vice presidency of Associated Student Government, and it appears voting in this election amounts to little more than bureaucratic tedium. But this election requires more active participation than others.

The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board endorses Nehaarika Mulukutla and Rosalie Gambrah’s ticket for president and executive vice president of ASG. Mulukutla and Gambrah have demonstrated a desire to make ASG more accessible, promote mental health and combat sexual assault. Mulukutla has said the pair plans on meeting with more than 60 student groups to help shape their campaign. Already, they have met with campus leaders including the Interfraternity Council and plan to meet with Counseling and Psychological Services, the Multicultural Center, the Black House and the Women’s Center to open dialogue on ways to address these issues, revealing proactivity in establishing rapport.

Mulukutla and Gambrah emphasize an intersectional platform, stating during a forum hosted by The Daily that they prefer to “pass the mike” on to marginalized voices to better represent the student body. They recognize the need to address the unique challenges people of color face when addressing other issues, from sexual assault to financial security.

The two still have a ways to go to achieve some of their more ambitious projects. Plans like eliminating dry-campus policies and creating advisory boards to University President Morton Schapiro focused on LGBTQ students, students of color and low-income students would require considerable overhauls in existing systems — specific plans Mulukutla and Gambrah have not yet identified.

But the biggest problem with this election is not a lack of specificity but a lack of competition. This is the first cycle in institutional memory where the election is uncontested, and that is a problem. There are no opposing candidates to push Mulukutla and Gambrah to present concrete plans for their proposals. There are no two-sided debates to foster accountability in the election process.

Uncontested elections limit choice, deplete dialogue of constructive criticism and fail to represent the interests and opinions of the entire student body. At a time when campus culture — which often extends to the national stage — cleaves more than ever, choice and representation are paramount, if only to allow productive conversation to challenge problematic beliefs.

ASG leaders carry immense responsibilities that affect all Northwestern students. They work with Senate, which allocates funds for every registered student group on campus, a total budget of about $1.4 million. They engage with top administrators and trustees on behalf of all students, pushing for better campus infrastructure and financial support. They represent the Northwestern student body in statements and petitions involving other schools and organizations.

Of course, this is not a completely decided election. Students can always vote no-confidence, though we discourage you from doing so. As problematic as it may be to have an uncontested election, we are lucky to have one with candidates as qualified and passionate as Mulukutla and Gambrah. We urge you to engage in this and future elections, continue to critically observe their actions and acknowledge the significant role ASG plays at this university.

ASG is meant to represent our voice. Let’s treat it as such.

This piece represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of The Daily Northwestern. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members or Editorial Board members of The Daily Northwestern.