Note: The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted to North by Northwestern, and is not an endorsement for the upcoming ASG elections.
Starting Tuesday evening, we enter another cycle of campus elections for Associated Student Government President and Vice President. We, Noah Star and Christina Kim, have spent this last year working in ASG, Noah as Speaker of the Senate and Christina as the Vice President of Services. In our different jobs, we have tried to bring a focus on student representation, through creating a productive legislative environment or providing the services and innovation that students demand.
But we are worried about the future of ASG. For this upcoming year, we think ASG should serve students, not administrators, build policy from the bottom up and amplify the opinions of student experts. We are committed to those goals as individuals and we believe that we are the best and only candidates to see them through.
To start, our vision for ASG does not consist of a laundry-list of empty promises, but of a wide-reaching plan for action oriented around three core values: accountability, accessibility and opportunity. We picked these goals because we think a lack of accountability is why ASG misses out on student voices and a lack of accessibility is how we fail in our representation. What we think ASG needs is leaders who provide opportunity to use ASG’s resources, like money, administrative relationships and knowledge. That is what we will bring as President and Vice President.
ASG sometimes forgets that we are students, serving students. As candidates for President and Vice President, we refuse to let that happen because we think that when it does, your value as a student government disappears. We need to create sustainable accountability to ensure that the progress that we make each year does not go to waste. Without a reinvigorated focus on creating institutions that properly represent students, we risk serious regression.
Upon taking office, we would leave no time wasted. In building our campaign, we have already started to listen and think about how our leadership can reflect what we’ve been hearing. ASG needs focus, and that focus must hone in on the priorities of the student body. We think that means looking at financial accessibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, mental health and sexual assault. It means injecting a healthy dose of humility in ASG, determining where ASG can provide expertise, but also where other student groups are the true experts.
So what does this look like? Under our leadership, we will expand the role of the Speaker of the Senate to allow him or her to serve as a mediator for disputes between student groups. Currently, there is no trusted third-party resource for student groups who come into conflict with each other. We think that the Speaker of the Senate can serve as this institution to maintain relationships with students across campus. This is what sustainable accountability as a representative government looks like: leveraging our resources to create a more positive campus environment.
For our external focus, ASG will help lead the charge on financial accessibility and work to remove financial barriers to participating in Northwestern campus life. We want work with the new Student Enrichment Services Office, the Center for Student Involvement and the Norris Box Office to create the Student Events Fund that offers up paid in full tickets for eligible students per quarter. Our working partnership must be based on a shared understanding an appreciation of the student voice. And when we face pushback, which we might, then we believe we are the best candidates to organize, create pressure and demonstrate the importance of the student voice to enact policy.
Ultimately, when it comes to the issues that students care about the most, our vision demands a simple plan: listen, then lead. We have a track record of active listening translating into successful leadership. This past winter, Noah helped bring Senator attendance to an all-time high and revamp the Off-Campus elections. As Services Vice President, Christina navigated the technical constraints and high demand of putting on RedesignNU, an event last Spring Quarter, and then helped guide the implementation of an app CourseDJ. And now, we are ready for new roles as President and Vice President.
Tomorrow we are launching our campaign at 8:30 Wednesday night in the Struble Theater, in the Wirtz Center just south of Norris. Come by to hear more about our plan for action and why we want to be ASG President and Vice President. We are excited to listen to our peers to hear the changes you want, just as we have this Fall and Winter Quarter. We hope that during this election, you will give us, Noah and Christina, the chance to continue listening and then enacting your visions for ASG and the campus’ future.
-Weinberg junior Noah Star and McCormick junior Christina Kim