ASG votes to stand against Schapiro’s involvement with coal mine


Daily file photo by Evan Robinsin Johnson

Former Executive Officer of Justice and Inclusion Soteria Reid speaks to the Senate. The SESP junior supported legislation that would have rescinded the code outlining the EOJI position.

Emily Sakai, Reporter

Associated Student Government Senate voted in its Wednesday meeting to stand against President Morton Schapiro’s involvement with the Adani Carmichael Mine and to retain the Executive Officer of Justice and Inclusion position.

The Adani Carmichael Mine is under construction in Queensland, Australia and would be one of the largest coal mines in the world. The insurance deal for the mine is being brokered by Marsh & McLennan, a company Schapiro sits on the Board of Directors of.

McCormick junior Lauren Simitz, ASG Chair of Sustainability, discovered this connection when activists in Australia reached out to her because they believed Schapiro is in a position to stop the construction of the mine.

The resolution, co-authored by Simitz and Weinberg sophomore Carl Morison, comes after the ASG sustainability committee made a joint statement with the student group Fossil Free Northwestern on the topic. The resolution calls on Schapiro to use his “power, influence, and position” to end Marsh & McLennan’s involvement with the Adani project.

“President Schapiro’s position with Marsh & McLennan is an opportunity for Northwestern to affect a major coal mine,” said Morison, ASG Treasurer, and a former member of ASG’s sustainability committee.

The resolution emphasizes the potential dangers of building the mine, including the environmental impact and the threat to the indigenous people of Australia. It also notes that Marsh & McLennan has continued to work with Adani despite 16 other insurance companies condemning the project.

After a successful motion to make the resolution emergency business, ASG voted to pass the resolution.

“To get ASG to pass this as a Senate adds weight to the movement,” Simitz said. “This is a powerful way for us to be an agent of change.”

Additionally, there was a dispute surrounding the position of Executive Officer of Justice and Inclusion.

During last week’s Senate, ASG voted to have the ASG selection committee choose who would fill the position. SESP junior Soteria Reid, who created the position and was the first to fill the role, was not in attendance at last week’s meeting. Reid lost the ASG presidential election earlier in the quarter.

“Students being part of the selection process is imperative,” Reid said to the Daily after Wednesday night’s meeting. “The point of the EOJI is that they are accountable directly to marginalized students on campus.”

When Reid motioned to move the EOJI selection update to emergency business, the motion failed. Some senators, such as Weinberg sophomore Elizabeth Sperti, thought changing the selection process after the application for the position had been released and two days before the selection would be “unfair to those who have already put work into their applications.”

Medill senator Adaeze Ogbonna then motioned for the code that outlines the duties of the EOJI to be rescinded.

Reid spoke on behalf of the motion, which would allow the position to exist in name but remove the selection process and official duties from the constitution. Critics argued the resolution would essentially eliminate the position she created.

“When I first implemented this position, it was out of excitement and hope for what ASG could be,” Reid said to the Daily. “What I’m feeling now is disappointment. This position is being used in a performative way. It’s there for ASG to say that they’re doing something.”

Recently elected ASG President Katherine Conte encouraged senators to vote against the motion and keep the position, which ultimately happened.

“We want to use this position as a tool to support marginalized identities on campus,” Conte said to the Daily. “It was shocking that people would want to get rid of this executive position.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @em_sakai

Related Stories:
Letter to the Editor: Calling on President Schapiro to abandon the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine
Conte, Zuniga sworn in as ASG president, vice president
ASG passes resolution calling on University to divest from the fossil fuel industry