In light of the recent ASG election, Political Union has decided to debate whether or not ASG matters for the student body. So for debate prep this week, I am providing a quick overview of some things that ASG does.
ASG has several committees that comprise its bureaucracy. Its largest committee is the Student Activities Finance Committee, which is responsible for allocating about $1.5 million a year to over a hundred student groups on campus. Perhaps the most notable group that SAFC helps fund is Mayfest. They received over $300,000 from ASG last year to help fund Dillo Day. SAFC also provides much more modest sums of money to groups like Political Union.
Meanwhile, ASG’s Analytics Committee creates an annual survey that ASG uses to petition the school to provide funding for various student needs. The Academics Committee handles advocacy pertaining to the classroom and academic resources, regarding issues such as CTEC reform, affordability of course materials, and graduation requirements. ASG also has committees for sustainability, health and wellness, campus life, and more.
The Senate, ASG’s legislative body, is comprised of about 40 undergraduate students. Just under half of senators are directly elected by their peers in their respective undergraduate school. School seats are allocated to schools on a proportionate basis, so Weinberg, for example, currently holds 9 out of the 20 undergraduate seats. (This is set to be reduced to 18 next year.) Meanwhile, 18 seats are allocated to various student groups that go through an application process. Political Union currently holds one of these seats. In addition to the school seats and the student group seats, the ASG Constitution stipulates that the student athletes and the four Greek councils also receive a seat each.
The Senate votes on a few different types of legislation. Perhaps most significantly from a financial perspective, it must approve all funding decisions made by the SAFC. The Senate must also approve all changes to the internal structure of ASG. Last week, for example, it passed the ASG President-elect’s proposal to combine two committees for efficiency purposes. Finally, the Senate also passes resolutions that recommend that the Northwestern administration take a certain course of action. One of the most recent resolutions passed by the Senate was co-written by Political Union’s Senator, Elizabeth Sperti, and urged professors to conduct mid-quarter course evaluations amid hectic Zoom classes. Theoretically, the school reads these resolutions and responds to them, although this does not always occur. In total, the Senate has passed 24 pieces of legislation thus far this school year.
In addition to heading ASG’s executive branch, the president serves as the “chief ambassador” of undergraduate students, per the ASG Constitution. In this role, the president meets with school administrators multiple times a week and is in contact with Morty at least once a month. Because of this direct contact, the president has considerably more power than the Senate in lobbying the school administration.
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