After presidential resignation, ASG adopts new leadership structure


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Emily Ash and Sky Patterson at ASG Senate. After leaving the executive vice president position open, Ash said ASG will continue to operate smoothly.

Elizabeth Byrne, Campus Editor

After Sky Patterson, citing her need to focus on health and academics, submitted the first presidential resignation in the last 20 years of Associated Student Government history this past December, the organization has adopted a new leadership structure to work around her absence.

Former Executive Vice President Emily Ash stepped into the presidential role, and will leave her previous position vacant for the remainder of her term. Ash has taken on the responsibilities for both positions for the remainder of the quarter.

Patterson announced her intentions to resign from ASG on Dec. 16 through a letter to the executive board. In the letter, she wrote that she needed to take care of her physical and mental health, as well as focus on her work and education.

“Northwestern students need to stop putting the needs of organizations ahead of their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.” Patterson wrote in the letter. “Student leaders should lead by example and establish wellbeing as a priority.”

ASG Speaker of the Senate Adam Downing said he was involved in the transition process early on. Traditionally, the speaker of the senate would be the one to fill in the executive vice president role, but Downing and other ASG leaders chose to keep Downing in his current role.

When deciding how to proceed with the transition, Downing said he had to consider the holistic impact it would have on the organization.

“It’s hard to transition an entire team,” Downing said. “If I were to leave to become the executive vice president, we would need a new speaker of the senate and I would have to train that person in a short amount of time and they would only be in that role for a quarter.”

Downing added that the role of executive vice president is allowed to remain vacant for the quarter because of a “suspension of the rules” regarding the line of succession in the case of a resignation. After that decision was made, Downing said the transition from Patterson to Ash was “seamless.”

While her volume of work has increased since taking on the role, Ash said not having an executive vice president gives her more freedom in how she handles ASG business. Ash said this is the first time the role of executive vice president has been left vacant.

“The one way my role has changed, I think I have a little bit more agency to take executive office work at a self-determined pace,” Ash said. “Doing this job without a vice president allows me a little bit more flexibility to move at a pace that’s more comfortable for me.”

Ash added that she has felt well-supported by the ASG executive board and others in her life while navigating her role as president.

She said a key to keeping ASG running has been identifying conflicts directly and working with others within ASG to solve them right away.

“This and many other roles within student government are inherently challenging, and it is naive to think that we will never to come into conflict with one another,” Ash said. “We are facing conflict up front and not being afraid to name what causes us stress or what troubles us within this organization.”

Despite the transition, Ash said she still plans to move forward with the same goals and initiatives she had worked on with Patterson. Ash added that if anything, Patterson’s resignation reaffirmed the importance of previous ASG goals to look deeper into student mental health initiatives.

Ash said she is confident ASG will continue to operate smoothly and isn’t worried about an “organizational breakdown.”

“It’s the mark of a good organization when one person can leave, even one extremely important and integral person can leave and operations don’t fall apart,” Ash said. “We have a lot of really capable leaders who are in the office every day and are doing a lot of work to maintain the good place we’re in.”

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Twitter: @lizbyrne33

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