ASG president Katherine Conte steps down, VP Juan Zuniga succeeds


Courtesy of Katherine Conte

Katherine Conte and Juan Zuniga. Zuniga will succeed Conte as ASG president following her resignation.

Yunkyo Kim, Development and Recruitment Editor

Associated Student Government President Katherine Conte has resigned from her position.

In her Sept. 14 speech to the ASG executive board, the SESP senior said stepping down was the best decision for her health, though making the choice was “incredibly difficult.”

“I cannot thank you enough for your support and guidance in helping me come to this decision,” Conte said. “Everyone here cares so much about students, and I know that this exec board will work hard to support students, especially trans and BIPOC students, during the year ahead.”

Prior to her presidency, Conte was part of ASG for three years and served as the chair of analytics.

Executive Vice President Juan Zuniga will immediately assume her role, Conte announced. Zuniga’s vacant position will remain empty.

Conte’s resignation is the second in the last three years. In 2018, former ASG President Sky Patterson stepped down, similarly citing health as the reason. In her resignation letter, Patterson called for more mental health support for student leaders, stating they often sacrificed their well-being for their organizations. 

“(ASG president replacement) is a pretty recent memory,” Zuniga said. “And I think that kind of speaks to a lot of the pressures that people face here and people face in the role of the presidency. Because it’s not an easy job, a lot of times it’s pretty thankless.”

Zuniga added that ASG’s leadership is considering developing a succession system.

ASG is also preoccupied with resuming regular operations, Zuniga said. This includes considering how recruitment and advocacy can look like in a virtual setting in which access to WiFi may not be universally available. The board is also forming a schedule for a set of committee meetings that would be open to the public.

“We have an incredible team in this office and on our executive board,” Zuniga said. “At the end of the day, it’s really not about a top-down hierarchy, it’s about working with the people who are in that board.”

Daniel Rodriguez, ASG executive officer of justice and inclusion, said ASG will continue advocacy work and organizing for marginalized students in the context of the pandemic.

This includes getting ready to publish term initiatives for justice and inclusion. Internally, this means challenging ASG’s legacy of anti-blackness and the consequences of the pandemic on marginalized communities, Rodriguez added.

“This really is just a part of a learning experience for all of us,” he said. “We’re gonna continue to do the work that we were elected to do and that we were selected to do, and hopefully the students will just trust us and believe that we can do the work.”

Conte’s vacancy will be felt by ASG’s executive members, Zuniga said, with so many issues to address. He said ASG’s leadership will be paying attention to the pandemic’s impact on housing, financial aid and layoffs for service workers.

“A lot of students are remote. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. The world, it’s really hard,” Zuniga said. “But we’re gonna keep trying to find the answers and make sure that we’re holding Northwestern accountable and making sure they’re putting students first.”

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