ASG explained

    ASG affects the news and our lives every day. But there's no Civics class for student government, and without a sense of ASG's structure and history, it can be hard to understand the latest reform proposal or NBN Senate update. With this explainer, NBN hopes to change that. This article will be continually updated by NBN News to reflect ASG's history, recent trends in ASG news, and changes to ASG's structure. It'll be like Wikipedia for ASG, but written and maintained by NBN's reporters.

    As always, share your thoughts about this explainer – or what you'd like to see explained in the future – in the comments.

    The Associated Student Government is the official student government of the Northwestern University undergraduate population.

    ASG discusses and enacts improvements to Northwestern University programs and allocates the annual $1.3 million Student Activities Fee to campus student groups.

    ASG members can be either elected or appointed. The three branches of ASG are the Executive Board, the Senate and the 14 standing committees. Additionally, there are two associate vice presidents who also oversee committees.

    ASG keeps a handbook detailing its policies.


    The Executive Board manages ASG as a whole and directly communicates with the University administration and other administrative discussions. Executive members conceive of the majority of ASG’s projects. The Executive Board attends Senate each week and meets regularly on its own.


    The Executive Board comprises 14 members, each charged with a specific function. Some, but not all, oversee one of ASG’s 10 idea-based committees.

    Four Executive Board members are selected through the annual campus-wide ASG election during spring quarter. The president, currently Victor Shao, presides over the Executive Board and oversees ASG. The executive vice president chairs the Cabinet. The current executive vice president is Brad Stewart. The student life vice president chairs the Student Life Committee and is currently Alex Van Atta. The student life vice president also oversees ASG’s two associate vice presidents. The associate vice president for sustainability (currently Mark Silberg) oversees the Sustainability Committee and the associate vice president for diversity and inclusion (currently Hayley Stevens) oversees the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

    The academic vice president chairs the Academic Committee and is currently Neil Mehta.

    The Cabinet is nominated during spring quarter by a selection committee composed of Executive Board members. Appointments are confirmed by the Senate. The public relations vice president (currently Becca Rodriguez), community relations vice president (currently Steven Monacelli), technology vice president (Ethan Romba) and services vice president (David Harris) each chair their respective committees. The new position chief of staff is also a Cabinet position and is currently Carly Blumenfeld.

    Four Executive positions make up the Parliamentary Body, which is elected by the Senate. The speaker of the Senate oversees the Senate. The current speaker of the Senate is Ani Ajith. The parliamentarian, currently Brandon McNamara, serves as head of Committee on the Rules, takes roll at Senate meetings and interprets and upholds the rules. The treasurer, currently David Chi, maintains ASG financial accounts and administers the operating budget.

    Financial vice president (Girish Pendse) and student groups vice president (Lauren Masterson) are appointed by a selection committee that consists of committee members, Executive Board members and faculty advisors. They transition during winter quarter, between rounds of student group funding.

    The ASG faculty advisors guide the Executive Board and Senate. Natalie Furlett, director of the Center for Student Involvement, and Director of Undergraduate Studies Mark Witte currently hold these positions.

    ASG Senate is Northwestern’s official student legislative body. It convenes weekly and votes on bills, which can be written by both ASG members and non-member undergraduates.

    The Senate deals with six different types of legislation:
    • Senate legislation, a bill of general interest to the undergraduate community and requires ASG action;
    • Senate resolution, which expresses ASG Senate’s verbal support for an issue that requires no ASG action;
    • financial resolution, a bill that allocates funds from the ASG Activities fee or the ASG operating budget;
    • constitutional amendment, amending or modifying the ASG Constitution; and
    • joint amendment, a bill that amends or modifies both the ASG Constitution and Bylaws.

    Senate consists of 51 representatives, who each belong to one of four themed caucuses. Each caucus elects a whip, who speaks on behalf of the group during Senate meetings. Caucuses meet weekly, separate from Senate, to discuss issues that pertain only to their respective constituents.

    The Residential Hall Association and Residential College Board Caucus contains 10 RHA and five RCB senators, who are elected via dorm elections during fall quarter. The current whip is Lauren Johnson.

    The Greek Caucus consists of five senators from the Interfraternity Council, five from Panhellenic Association and one from each culturally-based Greek council, the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council. These senators are chosen by their respective Greek executive boards via an application and interview process during spring quarter. Any Greek-affiliated member may apply, but no two senators can belong to the same chapter. The current Greek caucus whip is Sarah Brock. 

    The Off-Campus Caucus comprises eight senators, who are selected through an application process by a special committee of Executive Board members. The current off-campus caucus whip is Ian Coley.

    The Student Group Caucus contains 16 representatives from various campus groups, who apply each year for Senate seats, with the exception of the Student Athletic Advisory Council who has a permanent seat. Clubs are encouraged to combine with similar-minded groups when applying for seats. The current student group caucus whip is Paul Koscumb.

    The following student organization groupings hold Senate seats for the 2012-2013 school year:


    The 14 ASG standing committees contain both Senators and non-Senators, who apply for positions during fall quarter and throughout the year as needed. Senators typically serve on a committee in addition to fulfilling Senate duties. Each committee is chaired by an Executive Board member or associate vice president.

    The 10K Initiative Committee organizes the annual campus-wide initiative which asks students to submit and vote on an ASG project to which ASG allocates $10,000. It is chaired by Executive Vice President Brad Stewart.

    The Academic Committee creates academic resources, hosts academic events, and initiates and improves academic technologies, policies and programs. It is chaired by Academic Vice President Neil Mehta.

    The Community Relations Committee works to build positive relationships between Northwestern students and the surrounding communities, as well as to foster community among off-campus students. It is chaired by Community Relations Vice President Steven Monacelli.

    The Diversity and Inclusion Committee aims to support proposals that increase the diversity and inclusion of the undergraduate population by publicizing and promoting them across campus. It is chaired by Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Hayley Stevens.

    The Operations Committee manages the internal operations of ASG, the Student Group Resource Center and plans the annual campus-wide MLK Day Celebration. It is co-chaired by Clerk Carly Blumenfeld and Treasurer David Chi.

    The Presidential Leadership Initiative offers freshmen and sophomores interested in leadership in ASG or the larger campus community the opportunity to work with the ASG President and other campus figures on leadership development activities. It is chaired by President Victor Shao.

    The Public Relations Committee builds and manages the relationship between ASG and students. It is chaired by Public Relations Vice President Becca Rodriguez.

    The Rules Committee revises legislation to be consistent, in format and content, with the ASG Constitution and Code. Twice a year, the committee revises and proposes changes to the Constitution and Code. It is chaired by Parliamentarian Brandon McNamara.

    The Services Committee is responsible for ASG services that require management teams to function. It is chaired by Services Vice President David Harris.

    The Student Appropriations Finance Committee allocates the Student Activities Fee to A-status groups and advises student groups in financial matters. It is chaired by Financial Vice President Girish Pendse.

    The Student Groups Committee consults and advises campus student groups as well as recommending allocations of money to B-Status groups. It is chaired by Student Groups Vice President Lauren Masterson.

    The Student Life Committee works on projects that affect student life on-campus, including safety issues, diversity, laundry, dining issues and meal plans. It is chaired by Student Life Vice President Alex Van Atta.

    The Sustainability Committee works to bring more sustainable facilities and options to Northwestern’s campus by working the University officials and student groups to create projects and campaigns that aid in this endeavor. It is chaired by Associate Vice President for Sustainability Mark Silberg.

    The Technology Committee manages the ASG website and other online services. This committee oversees over 250 student group websites hosted on the ASG server. It is chaired by Technology Vice President Ethan Romba.

    This explainer was last updated Oct. 31, 2012, and was originally posted on November 21, 2011. Chrissy Lee, Robinson Meyer, Alex Nitkin and Matt Silverman contributed writing and reporting.


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