ASG Senate passes resolution to co-sign Black student demands statement, swears in new co-presidents


Julian Andreone/The Daily Northwestern

Associated Student Government Co-Presidents Donovan Cusick and Molly Whalen were sworn into their new positions Wednesday.

Julian Andreone, Reporter

The Associated Student Government Senate unanimously passed an emergency resolution Wednesday to co-sign a statement to Northwestern officials and administration listing demands for Black student safety and support.

During the meeting, the Senate also swore in the new ASG Co-Presidents, SESP junior Donovan Cusick and McCormick junior Molly Whalen. 

After the brief swearing-in ceremony, senators elected a Student Group Caucus Whip, appointed three new members to the Rules Committee, elected two senators to the Executive Cabinet Selection Committee and selected more than 10 senators to the newly formed Congressional Board of Financial Review Appointments.

The vote on the emergency resolution was added and pushed to the front of the Senate agenda just hours before the meeting. The statement, released on behalf of the Black student body, lists six official demands of the administration, including increased funding for Black student organizations and an end to policing of Black spaces on campus.

More than 200 students gathered at The Rock on Tuesday to demonstrate against on-campus policing. Organizers presented the set of demands at the rally.

Speaker of the Senate and SESP junior Leah Ryzenman said she felt it was important to hold a vote on the Black student petition immediately. She said the Senate is responsible for representing and advocating for all students, especially when groups of individuals holding specific identities are being mistreated.

“I owe it to my fellow students to support them if they say something is wrong,” Ryzenman said. “If there is injustice, you have to do something … I’m honored to be able to use my platform to share their message and to amplify their message.”

Ryzenman added ASG is particularly responsible for showing support when social movements arise because of the body’s close working relationship with the administration. 

Cusick said co-signing the emergency legislation will spread awareness of the petition among students and members of the administration.

He added he wants to continue having discussions with NU administrative officials to better understand why University Police is disproportionately patrolling Black digital and physical spaces.

“Coverage and a sense of direction is really important,” Cusick said. “When everybody knows what’s going on, it just allows for more accountability and transparency.”

Cusick and Whalen plan to meet with NU Chief of Police and Senior Associate Vice President of Safety and Security Bruce Lewis to discuss issues with policing on campus. 

Whalen said she wants to understand how the AlertNU system did not immediately notify students of last week’s Clark Street Beach shooting. Students didn’t receive official confirmation or instructions from NU for more than 30 minutes after reports of shots fired.

The upcoming meeting and continued conversations about policing will help ASG better understand the roots of the issues raised by Black students, Whalen said. She said ASG will then be more successful in proposing reforms to address student concerns.

“We won’t really know how to fix the system until we understand it,” Whalen said.

Whalen said she and Cusick are also working with University administration to gain access to a campus-wide Listserv that would allow them to send messages to the entire student body.

Former ASG President and Weinberg senior Jason Hegelmeyer ended the meeting with his final remarks as president of the body.

He said he has “no regrets” and cherished the four years he spent working to make ASG a more enjoyable and inclusive space.

“It’s nowhere near perfect and I think there’s so much work to be done, but I’m so motivated and inspired by other people doing work,” Hegelmeyer said. “I think ASG is on a definite better path to make it a more equitable and just (organization).”

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