ASG executive vice presidential candidates McCormick junior Alex Van Atta, SESP junior Josephine Lee, Weinberg junior Henry Brooke and Weinberg junior Danny Kim met in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum on Monday night for the executive vice presidential debate.
Building bridges inside and outside ASG
The candidates were each asked what day one would look like for their respective administrations. Lee, running mate of SESP junior David Harris, said she would task herself with reshaping the internal interactions within ASG.
“It’s important that the VP sets the culture of the organization,” Lee said. “What that means is taking the time to examine the pieces and the processes that we have at ASG to make sure that they’re in line to reinvigorate, to motivate, to inspire.”
Van Atta, running mate of Weinberg junior Ani Ajith, cited his work with Rainbow Alliance in bringing gender-neutral bathrooms to set himself apart from previous governments.
“We know that that community is fighting for this by themselves,” Van Atta said. “Something that we really need to be doing is sitting down and looking at the challenges that all the groups at Northwestern are facing.”
One of Brooke’s main ideas centered on expanding ASG’s reach beyond Norris – spreading conversation to the student body instead of bringing a couple people into the ASG “bubble” to weigh in on issues.
“One thing ... is making off-campus senators actually go out to their constituents,” said Brooke, Weinberg junior Aaron Zelikovich’s campaign partner. “It’s ... really little things we can do, make sure everyone is actually accountable.”
Kim said his and SESP junior Benison Choi’s ideas as a ticket are different from what ASG has seen before. The candidates don’t need to “reinvent the wheel,” they just need to push the organization to work at its full potential, he said.
“We’ve already analyzed where are the efficiency problems, where can we make changes,” Kim said. “It’s also not just about coming up with new initiatives, but really utilizing what you have.”
Discussing their campaign cohorts
As with all relationships, there comes a point when the couple might clash. The audience-submitted questions addressed this issue, asking the candidates how they hope to maintain a strong relationship if they disagree.
Van Atta noted previous disagreements he has had with presidential candidate Ani Ajith.
“Throughout this campaign, obviously we haven’t seen eye-to-eye on some things,” Van Atta said. “But we’ve been able to take those things and really have a direct conversation with each other. And I think through that our campaign team has really flourished.”
Kim, however, said he believed the fun mentality of the Choi-Kim campaign would help them work through any major issues.
“Having fun with each other is a big part of why our ticket stands out a little bit,” Kim said. “But it’s about sitting down at the end of the day and saying, ‘All right, what do we really need to focus on? What is the ultimate goal here? Who are we representing?’”
When the topic of the weaknesses of each presidential candidate came up, the debate quickly took on the air of a comedic roast.
“He’s a little bit forward, a little bit socially awkward,” Brooke said of Zelikovich. “But it’s not really his fault. It’s just his build.”
Despite the jabs, Lee, Brooke Van Atta and Kim all praised their respective running mates’ passion and focus on side projects, even if they can be a little too caught up in them.
“He’s an amazing leader; he delivers results,” Lee said. “My job is to make sure he doesn’t forget the people in the process.”
Weighing in on the competition
“If you weren’t running for yourself, for whom would you vote?” asked Weinberg sophomore Petros Karahalios, a Rainbow Alliance senator and the debate’s moderator. “In other words, who do you consider the next-best qualified candidate on stage today?”
The crowd, full of ASG members, broke out in scattered “Ooo”s, laughs and claps – many seemingly surprised by the directness of the question. But Matthew Davis, a member of ASG’s student life committee, was not surprised. He submitted it.
“The reason I asked that question is because it really forces people to think about, first of all, outside of this crazy campaign, what are your real priorities?” Davis said after the debate.
Van Atta cited his work experience with Harris as his reason for choosing Harris and Lee as his next-preferred ticket.
“Yeah, so, that’s a crazy question,” Kim said. He continued, stating his vote would go to Van Atta. Brooke, jokingly complaining about Kim’s lack of endorsement for his ticket, mumbled and eventually backed Kim and Choi, with little explanation.
Lee, last up, said she’d choose Van Atta and Ajith, with one stipulation: “We would only trust them if they would promise they love Northwestern as much as we did and bled purple as we did.”