ASG creates committee to address internal racism through structural changes


Daily file photo by Yunkyo Kim

Elizabeth Sperti speaks at a previous ASG meeting. Sperti co-sponsored the passed legislation moving the location of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.

Emma Rosenbaum, Reporter

In efforts to address internal racism, Associated Student Government passed emergency legislation Wednesday to create the Ad Hoc Committee to Reimagine ASG.

The legislation comes a week after the executive board released a statement regarding internal problems, including failures to address racist incidents with former speaker of the Senate Matthew Wylie and former advisor Prof. Mark Witte.

ASG president Juan Zuniga said the committee’s goal is to look at the fundamental structure of ASG. He said the “repetitions of trauma and violence” show that the system is a part of the problem. The committee will reach out to students for their ideas on restructuring ASG, Zuniga said, specifically focusing on elevating the voices of Black and brown students at Northwestern.

“The goal of (the committee) is to center those experiences and build out and design something that functions far better hopefully than the current student government that we have,” Zuniga told the Daily.

Zuniga also said they are willing to overhaul the current system if necessary, such as not calling it a government, getting rid of the Senate or even getting rid of the entire organization. He said the committee should start by questioning why each body of the organization exists.

“There have been attempts previously to try to address a lot of these structural problems, and in a sense almost every single one that I can at least think of really hasn’t gotten to the heart of the problem,” Zuniga said.

Policy Research Institute Chair Margot Bartol spoke in support of the legislation at the meeting. She told The Daily that in the past, ASG members have felt that internal changes would not matter because the changes may not be permanent with the transitions of power and focusing on reform may distract from other duties.

“What we are currently doing isn’t effectively representing students so taking some time to restructure what we are is worth it to create hopefully years of a better system,” Bartol said.

For Members Only senator Jason Hegelmeyer said he was “wary” of ASG creating committees to solve problems. But Zuniga said that they created deadlines for the committee and toolkits for design to ensure the committee finds an actual solution. The committee will update the Senate with its findings at the second-to-last meeting of the quarter and will be dissolved by the end of the academic year at the latest. The toolkits Zuniga mentioned combine design and social justice, an approach based on Equity-Centered Community Design. This involves designing solutions with specific communities in mind rather than the student body as a whole.

Zuniga said their next step is to start broadcasting the committee to the rest of the school. The committee’s first meeting will happen within the next few weeks.

“Hopefully we can find an approach that simultaneously can uplift the voices of students and work more as a collaborative and collective unit,” Zuniga said to The Daily.

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