The beginning of spring quarter arrived not with warm weather, but with a tidal wave of ASG campaign buzz. The blast of Facebook event invites and colorful, branded #content isn’t simply a campaign maneuver – the candidates are under a huge time crunch. Just one week and one day after Sky Patterson and Emily Ash's campaign and Justine Kim and Austin Gardner's campaign hosted their official launch parties, voting will begin.
The candidates have a busy week ahead as they make a final push to secure votes. Originally, there were three (3!) debates before the voting period begins Thursday at 5 p.m. But Monday’s debate was cancelled, and that news was overshadowed by the announcement that the the Sky and Em campaigned received two violations from the ASG election commission for their pre-campaign activities.
A third violation would remove Sky and Em from the ballot. For now they are alive and kicking, as their participation in Tuesday’s debate, which was hosted by The Daily Northwestern, showed. NBN recapped the war of words, and will be following up Thursday with highlights from the final debate, which will be hosted by the Coalition of Colors. That update will be attached to the bottom of this story. Follow along to make an informed decision about your representatives in ASG. – Mila Jasper
Tuesday: Institutional change and inequity
By Marco Cartolano
While Justine and Austin used the first debate to focus on the need for institutional reforms to ASG, Sky and Em emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of campus inequity.
“We wanted to further build a foundation for other campaigns and future administrations to really be contingent upon the values we lay out for ASG,” presidential candidate Justine Kim said.
In order to improve ASG, Kim said that funding reform is necessary to avoid the issues student groups experienced with the A-status and B-status model. Executive vice presidential candidate Austin Gardner added that ASG needs to reach out to a wider array of students and student groups so that ASG represents their interests.
Justine also advocated improving mental health on campus by extending a CAPS program that where Evanston and Chicago counselors come to campus and by creating a guide to help professors and students understand AccessibleNU.
On the other hand, presidential candidate Sky Patterson said her campaign’s policies address the underlying causes of campus conflicts.
“Emily and I and our platform really focus on the root causes of the foremost problems on this campus. We do not float around band-aid solutions,” she said.
Executive vice presidential candidate Emily Ash added that strategies to reduce the cost of class materials to address academic inequity need to be implemented. The ticket also called out the university for receiving hours of “unpaid labor” from student group leaders when many leaders have to decide whether to focus on a work-study job or being an on-campus leader. They called for a quarterly stipend for leaders who come from marginalized communities.
Sky and Em's campaign was hit with two violations asserting that their campaign violated ASG Election Commission rules, and Sky admitted that the stress of running a campaign led to some oversights. However, she said that her campaign was treated unfairly.
Em added that the election rules are administrative policies that many students do not understand. Their opponents were not interested in letting them off the hook.
“Although I understand a lot of the rules were administrative things, we also were held to those same standards and made a very conscious effort to make sure that we did not break those rules,” Justine said.Thursday: Clarifying before canvassing
By Laura Zornosa
Amid chaos and confusion, Thursday evening’s second and final debate almost met the same fate as Monday’s cancellation. Although the Coalition of Colors pulled out as host and the event was half an hour delayed, eventually the show did go on – hosted instead by ASG.
Crown Lecture Room 3 was abuzz and members of Sky and Em’s campaign were visibly shaken following a stinging Daily Northwestern non-endorsement letter to the editor by former ASG speaker of the senate Daniella Lumpkin.
Em clarified that “we’re still here,” despite the letter and ASG election commission violations. She addressed a moderator question about safe spaces with gusto, referencing her campaign’s initial idea to reallocate SAE fraternity’s house to a marginalized student group. (They have since dropped this idea.)
“Our platform speaks for itself: Sky and I have been talking about physical and metaphysical space on this campus since day one,” she said. “That’s why we got into this race.”
Both campaigns addressed Northwestern’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE) – and the pressing need for its further support. Sky followed Em’s lead in discussing a plank of their platform: promoting healthy sexuality.
“They operate a lot off of grants,” Sky said of CARE. “And it’s ridiculous to us that there isn’t a standard, permanent funding process for the most crucial resources on campus.”
On the other side of the lecture hall, Justine and Austin discussed an intersection of identities: their own on campus, as well as the integration of ASG with more student groups.
“I think one thing that ASG has really been lacking in has been intentional outreach to a variety of different communities,” Justine said.
She spoke of the tendency of ASG tendency to “silo” their activities around Northwestern, where she believes the two should fuse. Bringing student voices back into student government is one of Justine and Austin’s four campaign pillars, along with health, funding reform and increasing student choice.
“We see that every year, pretty much, this election process is when the relationship is really the biggest between the people that are in this [ASG] role and the community,” Austin said. From adjusting the annual analytics survey to reaching unengaged groups, Justine and Austin said they seek to change that.
Polls are currently open and will close at 5 p.m. on Friday.