The Daily Northwestern

Kim, Gardner seek equity, prioritizing student wellbeing in ASG run

SESP+junior+Justine+Kim+speaks+at+an+Associated+Student+Government+Senate+meeting.+In+her+run+for+ASG+president%2C+Kim+said+she+hopes+to+address+the+problem+of+prioritizing+work+over+health.
SESP junior Justine Kim speaks at an Associated Student Government Senate meeting. In her run for ASG president, Kim said she hopes to address the problem of prioritizing work over health.

SESP junior Justine Kim speaks at an Associated Student Government Senate meeting. In her run for ASG president, Kim said she hopes to address the problem of prioritizing work over health.

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

SESP junior Justine Kim speaks at an Associated Student Government Senate meeting. In her run for ASG president, Kim said she hopes to address the problem of prioritizing work over health.

Alan Perez, Assistant Campus Editor

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Justine Kim said she remembers her peers insisting they had already found a friend group and determined their life plans just days into Wildcat Welcome. The SESP junior soon discovered that the act was a “facade” and began to question why many students portray composure while they struggle to “stay afloat.”

“If so many of us can relate to that, why are we not talking about it?” she said. “Why are we not just being open about it and having it out on the table and trying to figure out at the core what exactly is the problem?”

In her run for Associated Student Government president, Kim said she hopes to begin a cultural shift toward acknowledging that struggle. SESP sophomore Austin Gardner, Kim’s running mate, said the first step in making these changes is to stop “normalizing” work at the expense of wellbeing.

Both Kim and Gardner said they’ve felt pressured to prioritize work over their health. Gardner said students are often forced to either break down, drop classes or quit extracurricular activities. He added he believes many professors don’t properly accommodate students overcoming illness.

When campaign manager Izzy Dobbel suffered a concussion, she was expected to take three midterms without enough recovery time, she said. The SESP sophomore said she believes Kim and Gardner are “the best candidates for this position” due to their platform’s focus on wellbeing.

“They have been genuine since day one,” she said. “They want to make sure that students feel like there’s an option to be healthy and to be happy on this campus. You don’t always have to be stressed out.”

In addition to health, their platform includes amplifying the voices of students with marginalized identities, improving accessibility for these students and reforming student group funding, Kim said.

Kim said agency and equity will be at the core of the campaign, as not all students have the same agency in maintaining their health or advocating for their interests.

Gardner said he hopes to apply the same principles and ideas he pursued as ASG’s vice president for accessibility and inclusion. He joined the accessibility and inclusion committee after he experienced microaggressions and didn’t feel comfortable in certain spaces, but was “heartened” by the passion and dialogue within the committee, he said.

“I want to continue that movement beyond where I am into the rest of ASG because … we can’t speak for everyone,” he said. “We need to make sure that we don’t just make stuff that benefits our space. We need to think about how what we do affects everyone else and be intentional about that.”

Kim and Gardner will face Weinberg juniors Sky Patterson and Emily Ash in three debates prior to the April 12 election.

Unlike last year’s uncontested election, Kim said this year’s candidates will be forced to be their “best self” and produce their “best ideas.”

“Ultimately, all four of us that are on the ticket want what’s best for the student body,” she said. “Purely having that be the driving force will produce a lot of good ideas that come out and ideas that I hope regardless of who wins at the end … will at one point be brought together.”

Email: aperez@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @_perezalan

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