ASG Elections 2012: Meet the candidates
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    The 2012 ASG presidential campaigns began Monday at midnight, and will run ten days, culminating in a campus-wide election Wednesday, April 11. North by Northwestern spoke with the two president and vice president pairs and one team of co-presidential candidates about leadership, aims for improving ASG in relation to the university and what Northwestern administrators they would like to be.

    Kameron Dodge and Steven MonacelliVictor Shao and Brad StewartDan Tully and Jeziel Jones

    Dodge and Monacelli

    Presidential candidate: Kameron Dodge
    SESP 2013
    Vice presidential candidate: Steven Monacelli
    SoC 2013

    North by Northwestern: What sort of leadership experience do you have?

    Kameron Dodge: DM Executive Board as Dancer Relations Co-Chair, Vice President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and Co-Chair for CATalyst

    Steven Monacelli: ASG Executive Board as Community Relations Vice President, Party Leader of the Left for Political Union, ASG Off-Campus Senator asCaucus Whip and Founder/Artistic Director of ToBeDivised, a new theater group on campus.

    NBN: Why did you decide to run?

    KD: We saw a good opportunity to create partnerships with other student leadership on campus and create a focus on connections among the students. Choosing Steve as a running mate was a no-brainer with his great ASG experience.

    SM: I saw a lot of things that could be done better. I didn’t think there were many people running with experience the intricacies of student government. My experience as both a senator and member of the Executive Board give me a unique experience to ASG’s inner workings.

    NBN: What are the key points of your platform for the upcoming year?

    SM: We see ourselves as co-presidents in an equal partnership, with key values and issues aimed at student connections.

    The co-presidential candidates laid out "six big areas of focus and improvement" on their platform:

    1. Alcohol Policy
    2. Off-Campus Housing
    3. Diversity and Inclusion
    4. Campus Safety
    5. Dorms and Housing
    6. Connecting Students

    NBN: What’s one goal that you have if elected, and how would you achieve it?

    KD: Our goal is to a student-driven agenda. We want to be advocated for all students at NU. For instance, with the alcohol policy, it’s not just about Greek life anymore. We want to get all related student groups from across campus together for discussion.

    NBN: What do you think are ASG's strongest aspects are? What do you think ASG could improve on, and how would you make those improvements?

    KD: ASG is good in working with the administration, better than any group on campus. However, we have the opportunity to build greater availability of cooperation among student groups.

    SM: We are great when working with the administration, but we need to improve efficiency and getting ASG members to give it their all.

    NBN: If you could be any person in the NU administration, who would it be?

    KD: Burgie Howard. His job is delivering students what they need to be successful down the road, and he’s a fun guy to hang out with.

    SM: Rob Whittier, Director of the Office of Sustainability. He’s a young guy with great ideas and a great sense of style. He’s the whole package.

    Note: Kameron Dodge and Steven Monacelli were interviewed separately.

    Shao and Stewart

    Presidential candidate: Victor Shao 
    Weinberg 2013
    Economics, Business Institutions Program minor
    Vice presidential candidate: Brad Stewart
    Medill 2013
    Journalism, Political Science

    North by Northwestern: What sort of leadership experience do you have?

    Victor Shao: I started here in debate, which made me realize there are a lot of experiences at Northwestern outside the classroom to take advantage of. Sophomore year I joined [Associated Student Government] as a senator, and now am the head senator of the Interfraternity Council. That’s been the crux of my student government experience. It’s been really interesting, bringing communities together between IFC and ASG. I’m also the finance chair for Camp Kesem. It’s been really interesting getting the non-profit and volunteering side of Northwestern. Beyond that, I’m also involved in Greek life.

    Brad Stewart: When I was a sophomore in high school I started an online media company which is what got me into journalism and why I decided to come to Northwestern to pursue that. What that really taught me was organizational management, how many times I failed over and over, trying to get it to work until it eventually did.

    At Northwestern I have applied that knowledge in a couple of ways. Just finished up serving as president of Delta Upsilon and in that role I completely restructured the chapter and we increased chapter size by over 60 percent...Almost immediately at Northwestern I was selected to be on the executive board of the Interfraternity Council. I believe I’m the only freshman to have ever done that. What that experience taught me was a lot about community building at Northwestern and specifically how there’s a lot of room for improvement as far as integrating different communities in Greek life. It manifests itself between the four different councils – they operate really independently from one another. I want to take that experience and apply it to the larger Northwestern community.

    NBN: Why did you decide to run?

    VS: Since joining student government, I’ve been really passionate about making Northwestern a better place than I found it. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. There are definitely improvements to be made. We both have a diverse array of student group experiences and an authentic experience. For a president, it’s about listening to students and reaching out to administrators and student leaders on campus. We’ve essentially spent the last quarter and a half developing those relationships and figuring out what needs to be changed at Northwestern, and making sure that if we get elected we have the tools to make an impact.

    BS: For both of us, we want to make ASG a really relevant can be seen as out of touch with the larger Northwestern student body. We really want to empower students to have their voices heard by the student government.

    Through my role on IFC, it’s become apparent that even though “community building” has become cliché, if you ask ten different administrators what a successful Northwestern community looks like to them, you would get ten different answers. They’re really intent on what I consider a top-down community. We need to build a ground-up community using this really fantastic solid base that we already have. Each student group does fantastic things and I think we too often look at community building as tearing down the walls between all the groups but for us it should be ASG as a support network for each individual group and providing the resources they need to be as successful as possible, and then building bridges between them by opening up lines of communication and incentivizing collaboration.

    NBN: What are the key points of your platform for the upcoming year?

    VS: Our platform is all about expression. When it comes to the role of student government, it has to be all about the students and we see this in two ways. One, encouraging students to express their ideas and opinions about how to improve Northwestern. Whether it’s about improving academics, creating a new student center, something about student life or anything in between. And two, showcasing student talent. There are a ton of students here with a ton of diverse passions and experiences. They’re doing a lot of great things – there are events every night, but no one ends up going to them. So we see ASG as facilitating those experiences and making sure students are recognized for their talents.

    BS: We really need to make ASG relevant. Students need to have their voices heard and that process needs to be convenient. If you have a question or problem at 2 a.m. it’s very easy to submit that online to ASG and get a response the next day. We’ve worked on developing this platform, which is based off a website at UVA. We’re calling it Expression NU. You would log in with your NetID and be able to propose anything to students. For example, there’s a fence right now between PARC and Allison preventing PARC students from walking directly to Allison...That may seem like a small issue, but it’s affecting the day-to-day lives of every student who lives there. So someone in PARC could submit that to ASG and other students can either vote up or down on that idea like on Reddit. Then the student government can comment on every idea so that it’s very transparent. Students know what ASG is working on, and it also makes ASG accountable to really working for the students. It answers the question, “What can ASG do for me?”

    NBN: What do you think are ASG's strongest aspects are? What do you think ASG could improve on, and how would you make those improvements?

    VS: Year in, year out, student group funding has been what ASG is known for among student leaders on campus. It’s a very stringent process and works well. That being said, there are definitely improvements that can be made regarding collaboration and partnerships between groups. The way it’s structured now there’s definitely room for collaboration but there can always be more. Also, ASG’s projects are usually behind the scenes. There needs to be a place or method...where students can see the big projects and issues we’re working on. For example, I’m part of the transportation working group and we’ve been working to provide a proposal to the administration about improving SafeRide through increased funding and making sure shuttles are on time. And I’m not going up to every student and telling them I’m working on it, but...we want to make that process of finding out [that information] easier.

    We’ve spent the last quarter and a half meeting with over 200 students and administrators. One of the common themes for improvement is communication. There are a lot of easy ways to fix this. For example there are bi-weekly meetings between top ASG members and the VP of Student Affairs. But we want to expand on that. I’ve been sitting in IFC meetings for over a quarter and it’s been invaluable communicating to ASG what IFC is talking about, and talking to Greek caucus...It’s also been invaluable talking to IFC and getting suggestions. For me, communication is a huge aspect to improve.

    BS: ASG has a lot of very passionate and very intelligent people, and that is by far the strength of the organization. However they haven’t been given the tools and provided the resources to operate as efficiently as possible. The process in place for senator training is not nearly where it needs to be. We’re actually in the process of passing senator training legislation which will be brought to a vote on Wednesday. We need to hold senators accountable and we need to inspire them to be part of this ASG community. We need to improve recruitment resources so that we are really truly getting 51 of the best leaders at Northwestern sitting in that room every Wednesday.

    The biggest problem in my mind is that if you ask an average student on campus, “What does ASG do?” they won’t be able to tell you. We need to ensure the average student can answer that question...The only way we can do that is by making the organization relevant for students.

    NBN: If you could be any person in the NU administration, who would it be?

    VS: Eugene Sunshine, the Senior VP for Business and Finance. I think his job is really cool. I met him through an event hosted by the Alumni Association for careers in business and finance. I thought I wasn’t interested in non-profits but he’s the senior VP for finance here. He’s a very personable guy and reminds me of a dad I wish I had. He has an interesting perspective because he’s a Northwestern alum, actually was the sports editor for the Daily Northwestern. Those were some of the most memorable experiences that he had and he wanted to come back to the community.

    BS: I would be Dean of Students Burgie Howard. His job is absolutely fantastic. He gets to work with students on a daily basis and really does impact the lives of students. His role is so powerful. Both Victor and I are looking forward to working with him immensely if we are elected.

    NBN: How is your team unique?

    VS: We’re not afraid to call each other out and we’re not afraid to make the hard compromises that are necessary for ASG to be an effective organization. Exec board cohesion is a topic we’ve talked to every exec member about and it’s definitely one of the biggest things for me.

    BS: We’ve known each other since freshman year. We have a fantastic working relationship and have worked on executive boards together since freshman year. The relationship that we have is extremely genuine, extremely authentic, which is really important and will allow us to work more efficiently and effectively.

    Note: Victor Shao and Brad Stewart were interviewed separately.

    Dan Tully

    Presidential candidate: Dan Tully
    Weinberg 2013
    Economics, Business Institutions Program minor
    Vice presidential candidate: Jeziel Jones
    Medill 2013
    Journalism, Political Science

    North by Northwestern: What sort of leadership experience do you have?

    Dan Tully: Freshman year, I was a Senator from RCB District 3, [or ISRC, CRC and Jones.] I currently serve as president of Plex.

    Jeziel Jones: I was an ASG senator freshman year for RCB District One, representing Shepard, Willard and PARC. I was formal chair for Shepard and participated in FELP. I have also led teams that participated in competitions like the Dell Social Innovation Challenge and other social entrepreneurship competitions through Kellogg. Vera Summit was my brainchild, and I started a crowd-funding platform for K-12 students.

    NBN: Why did you decide to run?

    DT: Freshman year I saw the potential of ASG to connect students to people, ideas and resources but at the time I wasn’t in a position where I could actually make those changes happen. So I want to run to build upon my experiences in ASG freshman year and connect students to ideas, people and resources.

    JJ: I don’t think there’s enough innovation coming out of our student body. I’d like to see the student government assist more student innovation. I also think our campus is divided and segmented and I don’t like that. It’s not where progress comes from. This is about ideas. I want to see more ideas and do what I can to make that happen.

    NBN: What are the key points of your platform for the upcoming year?

    DT: It’s time to grow new connections between students and three things – people, ideas and resources. First, for people, the primary goal is to provide equal representation to all students. I want to reopen the restructuring debate and develop a plan with Senate to ensure equitable distribution of Senate seats among students.

    Second, for ideas, my primary goal is to create “NUpdate,” a weekly email sent out by ASG with a schedule of the major student group events of the week. Right now when there’s an event it’s publicized by Facebook, and so you only find out about it if one of your friends invites you. Jeziel and I want to use ASG as a central hub of information, for all student groups to send information to ASG, who then distributes it.

    Finally, for resources, I want to restructure two things: SOFO and student group funding. SOFO needs to be online, digitize accounts and extend its hours. For student group funding, I want to dismantle barriers facing new student groups. We need to develop new regulations for student groups to make sure creativity is encouraged.

    JJ: Connecting students with each other, ideas and resources. I would like to see more collaborative events with all students, whether that’s across departments, athletes, races or cultures on campus. I want to see Northwestern’s community become more vibrant. The student government should act as a medium for doing new, cool, effective things.

    NBN: What’s one goal that you have if elected, and how would you achieve it?

    DT: To shift the focus of ASG away from itself and to students. The biggest frustration I had as a Senator was the obsession about its own code and Constitution. As we saw last week, when I tried to amend the Constitution to accommodate religious obligations, there was so much resistance. I entered a three week long process, only to find that ASG is really bound by its own rules. Its hands are tied behind its back. It can’t operate or serve the student body well if it’s only looking at itself.

    JJ: I would like to change the culture of ASG. I want to see ASG become the cool thing to do if you’re a leader. I think we can do that by getting members based on their genuine interest and ability to collaborate with other students. ASG should have more of a personality than it does now. We can also do this by throwing more events through ASG that focus less on policy and more on people.

    NBN: What do you think are ASG's strongest aspects are? What do you think ASG could improve on, and how would you make those improvements?

    DT: It serves two primary roles: it distributes student activity fee to groups and secondly it’s a lobbying group that collects opinions from students and presenting them to the administration. I think it does a good job of allocating money, in that it doesn’t keep that much for itself. But it could improve on how it distributes that money in terms of what student groups receive that money. I don’t think the only groups that receive money should be ones that have existed for a long time. There should be funds available for new ideas and initiatives that students want to create.

    ASG does a good job of meeting with the administration to accomplish things. But right now they can’t claim legitimate representation of students. Seventy-seven percent of Senate is from Weinberg. Three engineering senators, two SESP, two Comm, two Medill. We’re really cheating ourselves by not taking all student opinions and perspectives into account...We need to make ASG’s representation legitimate.

    JJ: ASG recruits top talent. That’s a strength – the talent factor. They keep things functional. They do a good job of running student life and maintaining the status quo. By the same token, it does a bad job with “shaking things up” by introducing new, and challenging old conventions.

    NBN: If you could be any person in the NU administration, who would it be?

    DT: Provost [Daniel] Linzer. Not only is he the Chief Academic Officer in charge of the fundamental offerings at NU – this is an academic institution, and that’s what attracts so many students here – but he also has a great deal of discretionary funds to throw money behind programs he wishes to support. In that sense, he has the greatest leeway and potential to take an idea he wants to support and get it through to fruition.

    JJ: I would be the Provost. He respects academics. This is an academic institution, so that’s good. If I were a leader of academics I would also stress to students the importance of things other than academics. I would stress that you need to combine something with academics.

    Note: Dan Tully and Jeziel Jones were interviewed separately.

    Interactive production by Tyler Fisher.


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