Associated Student Government passed legislation to support the John Evans Study Committee at Wednesday’s Senate meeting.
The committee aims to “uncover the nature of John Evans’ involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre and to recommend positive action by the University based on its findings,” according to the agenda.
The bill, written by Weinberg senior Ian Coley, asked the committee to work with the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance and to involve students in the process. Members of NAISA sponsored the bill. The measure passed unanimously.
Heather Menefee, Weinberg sophomore and NAISA co-president, explained to senators that the committee will investigate donations made by Evans to found Northwestern. The committee asserts that money Evans made in the railroad industry was connected to his involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre. Menefee said the committee has evidence of a $200,000 donation from his railroad profits.
“This is part of our history,” Menefee said. “We are trying to do what we can to change the institution to reflect its complicated relationship with the history.”
The petition asks for students and members of Native American groups on the committee, which Menefee said has seen administrative opposition. Many of the demands in the statement model a similar initiative at Brown University, which offered a similar committee to discuss how to acknowledge its history with slave labor during the university's construction.
“It’s not a political thing, it’s not a bad thing for the university,” Menefee said. “Brown went through a similar process … and came out being a school a place where progressive types of folks like to go.”
Senators voted on the final options to appear on this year's 10K Initiative ballot, which will go out to students in the coming weeks. The current options are:
- Outdoor seating, including benches and picnic tables. Potential locations include outside Scott Hall, Allison Residential Community, near the fraternity quads and behind the Jacobs Center.
- A “Willie the Wildcat” statue in front of Norris.
- An outdoor film series during Spring Quarter.
- Front-end composting, which would build upon the current composting done by Sodexo in the dining halls and include areas on campus to get more students actively involved.
The outdoor seating option was originally two separate ideas of benches or picnic tables, but after lengthy discussion was combined into one platform.
Additionally, Senate passed a bill to change ASG's constitution by eliminating the treasurer position within Senate and elevating its four caucus whips to the parliamentary body. The changes were initially discussed at the Feb. 13 meeting. These changes will be effective Spring Quarter when current Treasurer David Chi’s term ends.
Legislation to amend future ASG campaigns was also introduced Wednesday. Initial proposed changes included regulations on campaign materials and funds and changing the ballot system.
Under the proposed legislation, ballots would use a preferential voting system where students rank the candidates. This eliminates write-in campaigns and run-off elections. In the case of a three-way race with no majority, ballots supporting the losing third place candidate would have their votes go toward their second place choice to determine which of the top two candidates would win.
“The run-off vote never has as many participants as the first vote and the additional two days of campaigning are very unforeseen and haphazard, pretty in-your-face,” said Coley, who authored the bill. “There are a lot of things that happen to ‘clinch it’ that we feel could be eliminated with preferential voting or an instant run-off system.”
The changes would also provide each campaign with a starter kit of campaign materials, including paper, chalk and tape. Any additional spending by each campaign cannot exceed $150. The bill will be voted on at next week’s Senate meeting.