ASG candidates address police abolition, administration and internal reform in FMO-sponsored debate


Daily file illustration by Yunkyo Kim

While they agree on many issues, the slates differ in their levels of experience with ASG.

Emma Rosenbaum, Reporter

Associated Student Government presidential slates discussed University Police abolition, working with administration and restructuring ASG at Tuesday’s virtual debate sponsored by For Members Only. 

Christian Wade and his running mate, Adaeze Ogbonna, are campaigning against Sahibzada Mayed and his respective running mate, McKenna Troy. Voting will begin Thursday at 7 p.m. and end Saturday at 7 p.m.

The debate was co-hosted by FMO Senator Jason Hegelmeyer and Election Commissioner Donovan Cusick. Hegelmeyer and Cusick asked questions submitted ahead of time, addressing topics from personal experiences to mental health. 

Both slates said they support NU Community Not Cops’ calls for abolition. Wade said he and Ogbonna are focused on amplifying the work of NUCNC and FMO, as well as providing a space for these groups to speak with administrators. 

“We want to uplift Black students on this campus who have been mistreated and ignored and lied to for so long,” Wade said. “That’s definitely a very central part of our platform.”

Ogbonna added that the slate wants to ensure the groups have the means to enact change. She said she and Wade talked with organizers when creating their platform to make sure their policies aligned.

Medill freshman Mya Franklin asked Mayed and Troy about their lack of experience working with NUCNC organizers. Despite their limited connections to the group, Mayed said the pair wants to uplift and center the work of NUCNC and FMO. 

Wade has experience working with administration from ASG, most recently from discussing digital wildcards. While working with administrators can be frustrating at times, Wade said he wants to improve relationships with administration. 

Without experience working with University administrators, Mayed said he and Troy’s outside perspective will help them find new ways of achieving goals with administration, especially when advocating for NUCNC and FMO.

“If the leadership is not interested in listening to our demands, then how do we get them to come to the table?” Mayed said. “Part of it is coming up with new ways (of advocacy).”

Both slates said they want to center marginalized voices in ASG and increase student participation in the organization.

Wade said he and Ogbonna will focus on recruitment efforts to involve marginalized communities in ASG’s work, Senate meetings and administratrator meetings. Ogbonna also said the slate wants to restructure so that students can advocate for themselves.

“ASG has too long been a safe space for White people to talk over Black people,” Ogbonna said. “And I think ASG now needs to be a safe space for the marginalized communities that it needs to start representing.”

Members of ASG have brought up internal failures to address racism. A November 2020 Senate session discussing internal anti-Black and anti-Asian racism led to the resignation of former Speaker of the Senate Matthew Wylie. Additionally, ASG passed a legislation to enshrine a Senate seat for FMO in January after the Senate voted to table the business in Fall Quarter. 

Mayed said the outsider perspectives he and Troy bring to the race will help them analyze the system and restructure ASG to better center student voices. 

The Wade-Ogbonna and Mayed-Troy campaigns were announced after ASG originally pushed its election cycle by two weeks in an unprecedented April 15 emergency meeting. Following the session, then uncontested slate Teresa Vergara Miranda and Daniel Rodriguez dropped out of the race. 

The current institutional structure does not foster transparency from student government, Mayed said. Troy added that the slate wants to make students more aware of the access they have to ASG.

“I feel like once you actually provide (students) the space to do the work themselves rather than handing it off to a Senate that happens to be dominated by white students,” Mayed said, “I feel like that’s going to create a culture where they feel like ‘our concerns are actually being heard and we can be a part of ASG.’”

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Twitter: @emmacrosenbaum

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