ASG passes resolution calling for recusal of Board of Trustees chair from the presidential search committee, other bills

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Daily file illustration by Emma Ruck

The ASG legislation calls for the removal of J. Landis Martin from the presidential search committee because he is not representative of students, according to co-authors.

Emma Rosenbaum, Reporter

Associated Student Government passed a resolution calling for the recusal of Board of Trustees Chair J. Landis Martin from Northwestern’s presidential search committee during Wednesday’s session.

The bill passed with 17 votes in favor and one nay vote from the NU College Republicans senator. 

The legislation cites Martin’s past political donations and decision-making as reasons behind the proposed removal. It noted that Martin donated $30,000 to “Trump Victory,” a political action committee that aided former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and chaired an ad hoc committee that rejected calls to remove John Evans’ name from multiple campus spaces. 

The legislation was co-authored by former Rainbow Alliance Senator and Justice and Inclusion Committee member Jo Scaletty, as well as members of The Deep End, an organization that combines journalism and comedy through pre-taped episodes. The latter discovered Martin’s political activities when working on its ASG show. 

Scaletty said the bill seeks to remove Martin from the committee because he doesn’t represent the average NU student. They said this is not meant to be “anti-Republican legislation,” but Martin’s financial support of Trump harms marginalized students.

“He donated to Donald Trump who has demonstrated significant sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, a whole list of things that has negatively impacted students, which is why it is important to remove him,” Scaletty said.

If Martin is recused, Scaletty said they wanted the position to remain empty so he is not replaced by someone with a similar history. If the position must be filled, they said they wanted ASG’s executive board to select the new committee member because members are elected to support the student body.

The presidential search committee only advises the Board of Trustees on selecting the next president. McCormick junior Lily McClain, co-author of the bill, said this partially motivated her and other members of The Deep End to create the legislation.

“We (were) like, ‘He has enough of a voice (so) maybe we give that voice to someone else’ or just not have him be quite so actively involved in the picking of the next president,” McClain said.

College Republicans Senator David Grow said he voted against the legislation specifically because it called for the ASG executive board to fill the position. 

Grow said the legislation does not account for Republicans on campus.

“A lot of people in the Northwestern administration are left-leaning,” Grow said. “I felt as if what it really boiled down to was they don’t want somebody that could possibly be against what they stand for.”

Executive Officer of Accountability Margot Bartol reminded ASG members they do not have any control over the Board of Trustees. She said it is not likely that Martin will be recused.

In addition to the resolution, the Senate also passed legislation to make NU’s medical leave of absence program more financially accessible. Specifically, the legislation calls for the University to make $1,500 transition grants available to students on medical leave to cover living expenses.

The Senate also approved legislation to establish the Ad Hoc Community Relations Committee. 

The committee’s goal is to improve relations between NU community members and Evanston residents. Chief of Staff Donovan Cusick said he wants to reinstate the committee because of the disconnect between the two communities.

“We ultimately want to create a better environment for Northwestern students in Evanston and we’d really like have some time and people dedicated toward building relationships, contributing to community and making Evanston a more welcoming place for students, as well as creating an environment where citizens feel more comfortable with students,” Cusick said.

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Twitter: @emmacrosenbaum

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