Telles-Irvin laments state of housing at ASG Senate

    “I was amazed, sincerely,” Telles-Irvin said about the state of on-campus housing. “And very troubled by what I saw.”

    ASG senators denied a $700 request by representatives from the student group AIESEC to supplement funding for Global Village, an annual bazaar of music, cuisine and performances, at Wednesday night’s ASG Senate session.

    ASG Senator Ala Salameh and Global Village Fundraising VP Tianyu Zhang asked Senate to help fund the roughly $3,300 event, set for April 21, which brings together over 40 groups and has attracted over 600 students, visiting families, prospective students and faculty in the past, according to the event’s organizers. Senators, however, raised concerns over the group’s request, claiming AIESEC should have requested the funds during last week’s B-status funding. Global Village reps said the event encompasses such a large number of groups that it should be treated separately from the normal funding process.

    Senators disagreed and ultimately rejected the proposal, leaving Global Village members momentarily stunned. But, in the hectic atmosphere that was Senate’s two hour, 45 minute meeting, business quickly progressed.

    Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president of Student Affairs, continued the streak of star  administrator Senate visits, kicking off Wednesday’s meeting with an hour discussion about campus concerns. Senators raised a host of issues, from a desire for safety to housing, community building to alcohol amnesty. Telles-Irvin took almost every idea with a short “we’ll look into that,” adding each to her mental list of priorities.

    But she wasn’t beyond telling senators to do work she thought students could do themselves. On the condition of housing, Telles-Irvin said she’s toured every building on campus.

    “I was amazed, sincerely,” she said. “And very troubled by what I saw.” Telles-Irvin said her office is forging ahead with a housing master plan, and will seek student input. “We can’t formulate a master plan without, basically, the customers,” she said.

    It’s unusual, she told the group, that Northwestern didn’t have a housing master plan previously. She’s already labeled safety, health, aesthetics, community, academic initiatives, technology, sustainability, and accessibility as the eight areas by which each new or updated dorm will be measured. The newly refurbished Allison and Elder will be the standard.

    “Most of the students who live in those facilities really love them,” she said. After Telles-Irvin’s departure, Senate heard a proposal for an all-encompassing diversity committee, presented by Communications junior Jazzy Johnson, chair of the Coalition of Colors, a conglomerate of campus multicultural groups. “It’s really important that we realize that this issue of diversity is not just about race and it’s not just a minority issue,” Johnson said.

    “This is not just a race issue,” co-sponsor Benjy Leibowitz reiterated. “We all recognize that campus is very socially segregated across all communities.” The committee, if approved by Senate next week, will advance six initiatives put forth by students at February’s diversity forum, and will consider a host of other student-led diversity projects.

    In final Senate news:

    • In a 20-6 vote, Senate approved $250 for a cell phone-sharing program, to be overseen by the Norris Box Office. The money will be used to purchase six “skeleton” phones, available for $3-per-day rentals from NBO. Some senators raised concerns that a significant number of students hadn’t been sampled to justify the program.

    • Senators elected seven members to the ASG election commission to oversee next quarter’s campus-wide elections.

    • ASG President Austin Young briefed Senate on his recent trip with the UChicago student body president to attend a nuclear non-proliferation conference at Yale. The conference, as Young described it to Senate, involved “a bunch of really smart people.” Alas, the world will remain proliferated with nuclear weapons.

    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. 


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