From the onset of the 2016 Associated Student Government election, different buzzwords have described certain NU students. Marginalized. Underrepresented. Minority. No matter what terms applies to these students, their struggles come to the forefront of student affairs as presidential candidate Christina Cilento and her running mate Macs Vinson win the majority vote.
Cilento and Vinson won by a margin of two percentage points according to information released by ASG Friday evening, beating out Presidential candidate Joji Syed and Archit Baskaran, her running mate. The Cilento-Vinson platform centered entirely on marginalized students, while the Syed-Baskaran platform asserted that many issues are intersectional with social justice and that to address a variety of issues will better support marginalized groups.
In a debate moderated by the Coalition of Colors on Tuesday, the candidates argued their approach to addressing the needs of marginalized students. They addressed ASG’s failure to serve marginalized students in the past.
“[Marginalized students] all live in a system of oppression here, and for the first time I think we have a great capacity to change that,” Baskaran said. “I think ASG more than any other body on campus has that power to push for the policies that it wants to see changed.”
For the Syed-Baskaran campaign, which did not explicitly focus on marginalized students, those students still benefited because their approaches to student group improvements, mental health services and alcohol reform coincide with social justice for marginalized students, Syed said.
“All of these issues that we’re pursuing disproportionately do affect marginalized communities,” Syed said. “That’s why we think of a very holistic approach when elevating the voice of marginalized students.”
Alternatively, the Cilento-Vinson platform focused on the idea that rather than acting to serve the average student, a focus on the needs of marginalized students would implicitly benefit NU community as a whole, Vinson said. Previously, ASG’s focus on the needs of the “average” student had only erased the voices of marginalized students, but by ignoring the needs of those students, ASG never truly represented the student body, he said.
The Cilento-Vinson ticket included reform to funding access for marginalized groups to give them greater freedom in designing programming, as well as increasing mental health resources for students of diverse backgrounds, he said. They also had a mantra of “unionizing, not governing” students, meaning that ASG would work alongside marginalized group so they did not have to fight to have their feelings heard, he said.
The Cilento-Vinson campaign had helped bring the greater awareness to the plight of marginalized students at NU, which was important even if their ticket lost, Cilento said.
“We know that we had incredibly important conversations with so many student groups and we have such a better understanding of what marginalization looks like at Northwestern,” she said. “That’s something I’ll be really proud of, knowing that I feel like we ran the type of campaign that we wanted to do, and we did so unapologetically.”