At Wednesday’s nearly four hour Senate meeting, ASG allocated spring funding for A-status student groups, and debated amendments to Senate structure and election policies.
During the funding discussions, more than $1 million was distributed to 32 groups.
Senate also voted on reforms to the election guidelines. Changes include opening verbal campaigning two weeks before Election Day and shortening non-verbal campaigning to seven days, starting when the official campaign period commences – at midnight on the Saturday before elections.
But senators voted to remove a section of the proposed changes that prohibited members of the Executive Board from making written or verbal endorsements for any candidate.
“I think the leaders of this organization know what’s going on with it, and their voice should be heard on campus,” senator Motoki Mizoguchi said in opposition to the amendment. “We shouldn’t restrict the voice of the outgoing or current members of ASG on who they think the best candidates are ... Students should hear from the guys who did it already.”
After lengthy debate, the endorsement-preventing amendment was eventually struck down and the reforms were passed without it.
Legislation was also proposed to restructure Senate from the current resident-based representation system to one that focuses on the undergraduate schools. The new model would designate 21 senators: 10 for Weinberg, four for McCormick, three for Comm, two for Medill and one each for Bienen and SESP to represent undergraduates. An additional 12 senators would represent campus life, a replacement for the current student group representatives. Five senators from the incoming class of freshmen and transfer students would serve a two-quarter term beginning in the fall. This replaces the current representation based on Resident Hall Association and Residential College Board senators, and senators representing Greek Life and certain student groups.
“The reason for this big change is to make sure students are represented evenly and fairly across the board,” senator Ian Coley said. “That formalized system will assure for the representation of every Northwestern student, not just the ones who are lucky enough to live with their representative.”
Speaker of the Senate Katie Funderburg said the proposed changes are the result of many attempts at Senate reform, including a reduction from the current 51 senators to 38.
“It was the committee’s opinion that decreasing size of Senate will increase Senate accountability and create a more effective group,” she said.
A public forum to discuss these changes will be held Tuesday, May 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Tech LR3. The measure will be voted on at the June 5 Senate meeting.
Also at the meeting, Dean of Students Todd Adams introduced “NUhelp,” a new online initiative. The site aggregates links to university services in one place, offering four categories of assistance: immediate assistance, well-being, academic resources and support, and safety and security. Adams said he and ASG saw the need for a “one-stop-shop” for campus resources; the NUhelp button will be “omnipresent” on every university site.
The site is currently in a “soft launch” phase, but will be officially announced in the fall.