The ASG Senate elected six members to Austin and Ash’s landmark 5K Initiative at what proved to be the lively, if at times wildly out of control, first Senate session of Winter Quarter Wednesday night.
The six elected members, under ASG President Austin Young’s leadership, will vet student-generated ideas, the best of which will be funded with $10,000 – half from ASG and half from funds matched by Student Affairs Vice President Patricia Telles-Irvin.
Ellie Graham, a transfer student and one of the three non-ASG members elected to the 5K committee, said the initiative highlights the essence of Northwestern, where students can mold themselves and shape their own educations. “It goes to the heart of why I wanted to be a Wildcat in the first place,” she said.
Aiding to the generally cheery mood, at least during the meeting’s first hour, NU-Qatar students studying in Evanston joined Senate and were met by senators with energetic applause, fueling the air of school spirit, camaraderie and partnership Young has championed as president.
“There’s a lot of pride going on at Northwestern,” one Qatari student said of the Doha campus, which shares space with a handful of other universities. “The other campuses don’t flaunt their colors as much as us.”
The two-and-a-half hour meeting was momentarily productive but quickly devolved into a virtually unmanageable circus, replete with sexual innuendo, curses and free-flying insults. A few of the ASG candidates for the 5K committee seemed to take the responsibility with less seriousness than the non-ASG candidates. The question and answer session for these members reverted back several times to comments on alcohol and romantic desperation. The larger Senate body did not elect the less couth candidates.
While the behavior was not indicative of ASG’s atmosphere overall, the conduct raised questions of deeper cultural struggles with professionalism and responsibility. After the meeting, Young said he intends to address these in the coming weeks.
Despite the antics, of course, Senate wasn’t entirely unfruitful.
Besides appointing students to the 5K group, members delegated fellow senators to three working-groups, one each for dorm conditions, shuttle accountability and food quality. The groups will work this quarter to produce broad student assessments of each topic for incoming Vice President of Student Auxiliary Services Julie Payne-Kirchmeier.
Young also unveiled ASG’s newest logo, which, he says, “symbolically builds upon” ASG’s heritage of serving students. The new image, which replaces the three purple circles that have defined ASG for the past four years, roughly evokes the Arch, a bird mid-flight, and a North-facing compass.
Along with the logo’s unveiling, Young reaffirmed promises of increased communication for the quarter ahead, coupled with plans for kitchen conversations and roundtables, which remain in the planning stages. His administration is still confirming roundtable guests like Telles-Irvin and Coach Fitzgerald.
Perhaps reflective of the meeting’s game-like atmosphere, a handful of Senate members continually refreshed a live feed of Wednesday’s basketball battle against Michigan. After Northwestern’s 66-64 loss in overtime, Speaker Wilson Funkhouser tellingly quipped, “This has been such a bad day, everyone go home.”
NBN welcomes Matt Bellassai, former ASG Presidential candidate and Public Relations Vice President, as Special ASG Correspondent this quarter. Please see our note on his coverage.