At Wednesday’s meeting ASG senators confirmed three positions, two of which had been left vacant when Senate failed to confirm candidates at its May 8 meeting.
Weinberg junior David Harris was confirmed as chief of staff, while Weinberg sophomore Julia Watson was confirmed as public relations vice president. Both were sworn in at the meeting after a brief, off-the-record question-and-answer period.
Watson said she and Harris spoke in the time between the first confirmation session and Wednesday’s meeting. In an email, Watson expressed her excitement to work with Harris: “After talking, we found that we had shared a lot of similar goals for improving ASG and given the overlap between Chief of Staff and PR VP, I'm really looking forward to working with him this upcoming year on these projects.”
Also Wednesday, SESP freshman Chris Harlow was confirmed and sworn in as director of residential life.
The associate vice president of diversity and inclusion position remains vacant after a contentious first-round confirmation that failed to approve a candidate. Aanchal Narang, a Weinberg junior who was slated for a confirmation vote at Wednesday’s meeting, decided to withdraw her name from consideration.
In a statement read by Vice President Alex Van Atta, Narang said: “In applying for the position of VP for diversity and inclusion, I believed I was following my dedication to the university and had enough experience to fulfill all of its responsibilities. However, upon further reflection, I realize this position is better suited for a student who can give the role the full commitment it deserves.”
Van Atta said that after talking to administrators, the committee in charge of selecting candidates decided to postpone filling the position until next fall.
He and President Ani Ajith said it would give the committee enough time to find a qualified candidate and clarify the position description and expectations. Had they not delayed the vote, a new candidate would have had to be chosen and voted on at next week’s meeting.
“That doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of the applicants or the process that we would want in a role that is so important to the campus,” Van Atta said.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, members of ASG heard a presentation from Dr. John Dunkle, executive director of Counseling and Psychological Services, who updated senators about the latest data. This year, he said, 2,053 undergraduate and graduate students have accessed CAPS services. This is an almost 8 percent increase from the previous school year.
“It’s been a challenging year on a number of levels,” Dunkle said, citing the three Northwestern student deaths, along with national tragedies like the Dec. 14 Newtown shooting and the April 15 Boston Marathon attacks. “There’s no one solution to this, but piece by piece we’re putting it together.”
To accommodate the increase, Dunkle said CAPS was approved to hire two additional psychologists, one to coordinate the QPR suicide prevention training and one who has expertise in reaching Hispanic students on campus. They will be hired over the summer and be in place by Sept. 1. With the increased staff numbers, the new ratio will be one staff member for every 990 students. Dunkle said he originally requested four new staff members and will continue to pursue those positions.
Senator Connor Regan, a SESP freshman, introduced a resolution calling for the establishment of a national presidential youth council to advise the president of the United States on issues pertaining to young people. Regan said the measure originated outside of Northwestern and is gathering support at a national level and from other colleges and universities. Senators will vote on the resolution at their June 5 meeting.