ASG’s Misguided Political Involvement

The article below is based on a letter submitted to all members of ASG on Monday, January 21, 2013.  The concerns expressed herein are those of the authors only, and the Chronicle therefore does not endorse these views.

By: Justin Moore and Dane Stier

This Wednesday, Northwestern’s Associated Student Government is set to vote on a controversial issue–whether or not to endorse President Barack Obama’s gun control policy.

While we applaud ASG’s initiative to be more connected to real-world politics, we are quite disturbed by the idea of ASG making a one-sided endorsement on such a polemic issue.  ASG is an organization designed to represent the student body; to quote ASG’s mission statement, its “mission is to connect Northwestern by bringing communities and resources together.”  By endorsing an action that many students do not condone, ASG would be ostracizing many students and making them feel as outsiders at their own University.  This is clearly contrary to ASG’s mission of uniting the student body.

As such, any political endorsement, regardless of the issue or partisanship, does nothing to benefit Northwestern students or to accomplish this goal; instead such an endorsement would merely express the opinions of 51 students in a matter entirely irrelevant to Northwestern, and in so doing denigrate any student of a contrary view.

Furthermore, it is astonishing that a university so hostile to insufficient diversity may be willing to disqualify political diversity from that issue.  Intellectual, cultural, racial, spiritual, and political diversity exist on equal terms; we hope that ASG will refrain from using the liberal predominance at Northwestern to essentially discriminate against the conservative and libertarian students who disagree with the President’s plan.

It is more important, however, to recognize the potential consequences of this or any future political endorsement.  Should ASG senators be motivated in their actions by political beliefs, we must wonder if they may also justify themselves in allowing political bias to influence other ASG tasks, or if such bias has influenced decisions in the past.

The sponsors of this resolution justify it as one of many endorsements in ASG’s “rich history” of recognizing controversial political issues; they claim it acts in accordance with decades of precedent.  Yet they fail to acknowledge a more recent precedent:  in 2011, ASG indefinitely tabled a resolution to affirm support for Israel because it would neglect the views of many students.  The senators are once again faced with a resolution contrary to the opinions of hundreds of students, and once again in need of upholding the views of all Northwestern students.

Therefore, we ask that ASG not only abstains from endorsing President Obama’s gun control policy, but also refrains from endorsing any future controversial political ideas or actions, whether they be liberal or conservative.  We hope that they see our reasonings as sufficient to resist allowing political bias to influence decisions as representatives of Northwestern’s student body, and instead return to the relevant duties prescribed to ASG.

If you are a current Northwestern student and believe ASG should abstain from involvement in partisan and political issues, please sign our petition.

Justin Moore, President of Students for Liberty, Class of 2014
Dane Stier, President of College Republicans, Class of 2014

Update: ASG will make a final vote on the gun control resolution next week- stay tuned.

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