Fall in ASG: Breaking down initiatives from three committees

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Graphic by Emma Ruck

ASG members shared highlights this quarter’s initiatives.

Emily Sakai, Assistant Campus Editor

For Associated Student Government, Fall Quarter has been defined by the need to pivot in response to COVID-19, ASG president Juan Zuniga said.

ASG’s COVID-19 task force originally handled pandemic-related issues, but individual committee chairs took over many of those responsibilities this quarter.

“We’ve become more comfortable with how to operate in a pandemic,” Zuniga said.

The Executive Office of Justice and Inclusion has worked to provide students with emergency aid. Additionally, the Health and Wellness Committee is launching a separate initiative aiming to better support students taking a medical leave of absence.

“Our job is to support students in the way that they want to be supported,” Zuniga said. “A lot of these solutions, hopefully, can bring sustained support around how we’re navigating as students in the pandemic.”

With the quarter coming to an end, The Daily spoke with the chairs of three ASG committees about the initiatives they led this quarter, and what students can expect from them moving forward.

Academics Committee

When students petitioned for the continuation of Pass/No Pass grading into Fall Quarter, Zuniga said ASG helped facilitate dialogue with administrators. Ultimately, the University announced a new grading option, Credit/No Credit, which students can use this academic year for a third of their classes. 

Academics Chair Campbell Schafer said the Credit/No Credit option felt like a good compromise with administrators.

“We are making sure that students are still motivated to work hard, and we’re still upholding the standards of Northwestern academics, but we’re also ensuring that students have an opportunity to catch their breath,” the Weinberg junior said.

The committee also wrote a letter to professors with recommendations on remote learning. The letter, Schafer said, will most likely be sent out before the start of Winter Break and is based on student feedback.

The Academics Committee, alongside the Campus Life Committee, is also currently working to expand the department that organizes faculty bias training.

Campus Life Committee

This quarter, the Campus Life Committee has been working to expand meal plan options for sophomores. In previous quarters, sophomores living on campus but not in Greek housing were on the Open Access Meal Plan, the most expensive option.

“We realized that it didn’t really make a lot of sense for second-year students to be restricted to that one dining plan,” Christian Wade, the committee co-chair said. “If you’re not eating at the dining halls all the time, why are you paying this really expensive price?”

The committee co-chairs met with NU Dining to expand sophomore meal options to include all dining plans. So far, Co-chair Zubair Ahmed said NU Dining has been receptive to the initiative.

Going forward, Ahmed said the committee will work to gather feedback from students.
The committee has also been working on digitizing Wildcards and mandating diversity and inclusion training for student organizations to receive funding.

Sustainability Committee

ASG’s Sustainability Committee brought back $15,000 in sustainability funding that was lost in the budget deficit this quarter. They’re also working towards creating more energy-efficient lighting in Locy Hall and Fisk Hall and a zero-waste Ryan Field.

Committee Chair Lauren Simitz said under pre-pandemic circumstances, Ryan Field was a huge producer of waste due to the number of fans circulating the stadium during game days. In order for Ryan Field to be zero-waste certified, Simitz said the space would need to achieve 90 percent waste diversion, up from the current 40 percent.

“The amount of trash that’s produced and left in the stands and also around the facility from tailgates is pretty substantial,” Simitz said. “Northwestern has made a lot of great sustainability strides on campus, but less so in sort of athletic facilities off campus.”

The proposal, which Simitz said has been in the works for over a year, was set to be implemented this year, but the pandemic has prompted timeline adjustments.

The committee also made plans to change out the 175 lights in Locy and Fisk, replacing the outdated CFL lights with energy efficient LEDs. The plan is set to be carried out during Winter Quarter.

 

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