New business brought forward at ASG Senate on Wednesday night raised questions of clarification in regard to talks about open admissions policies for student groups on campus.
President of Delta Sigma Pi Kathir Sundarraj introduced a resolution that stated the Northwestern student body is against the proposed student organization admissions policies. He gave myriad explanations for the resolution, including his assertion that it may “shut down or dilute experiences.”
Sundarraj continued to explain that many students recognize the problems, but that there are other ways to solve the issue of inclusion on campus. During the questioning period, Brent Turner, the executive director of Campus Life, addressed some clarifications.
“There is no mandate and no policy,” Turner said, explaining that a recent Daily Northwestern article about the proposed policy was “a student’s narrative of my words.”
Turner said he stands by the accuracy of his quotes, but that the wrong message came across in the article.
“I think that readers infer that there is a policy or mandate in place or coming, and so that sounds like something is set in stone,” he said. “What was left out is a call for dialogue to engage with students and stakeholders over the next year to determine what our outcome could be, and that the process is as important as the outcome, if not more so.”
Turner said the objective of the initiative is not to create a blanket mandate for most groups with some exceptions, but rather to talk to each group and determine a more inclusive plan on a case-by-case basis.
Tyler Pager, editor-in-chief of The Daily Northwestern, responded in an interview that Turner has not notified the Daily of any factual inaccuracies. Pager said he stands by the content and language of the articles and declined to comment on how the misunderstanding Turner referenced may have occurred.
"I can't speculate on how students interpret our articles," Pager said. "I think looking back, the articles are very clear about our reporting and align with exactly what Brent Turner said in interviews with our reporter."
Turner said that moving forward, his goal is to incorporate student feedback to shape a workable open admissions policy.
“Our work is to talk with the community this spring, strategize over summer and then talk with the community again all next year to figure out what this could look like for Northwestern,” he said. “We want to talk to people throughout the process to figure out what actually makes sense for Northwestern, whether it's accountability or incentives; that’s what’s tricky.”
“The goal is to build a better Northwestern, and so working with students, it’s not admins pushing this, it is admins amplifying voices of those who are often silenced,” Turner said.
Additionally, an election reform was introduced to Senate in response to the controversy surrounding the release of information to the Christina and Macs campaign earlier in Spring Quarter.
“It closes a lot of the loopholes that are currently present in the guidelines, and it gives the commission more effective powers when it comes to enforcing punishments for violations,” said Lauren Thomas, the ASG election commissioner.
Some of the new reforms include that if the chair chooses to share information, they must share the same content at the same time with all campaigns, and that the election commissioner would be the only person allowed to communicate with the campaigns (previously a de facto rule that was never formalized).
“Such guidelines would make the leak and controversy that occurred this year extremely difficult, if not impossible,” Thomas said.
The Wild Ideas Funding Proposal and ASG Budget were also confirmed, and A-Status Funding was also introduced and will be voted on next week.
Editor's note 5/19 1:52 a.m.: This article has been updated to include Tyler Pager's comment and to emphasize the proposed nature of the open admissions policy throughout.