Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Letter to the Editor from Ben Barclay

<r Editor,

It was refreshing to see the Carletonian endorse a candidate for CSA President; I was quite disappointed, however, by the lack of endorsements for the competitive CSA Vice President and Senator elections, as the student body would have undoubtedly welcomed the editorial board’s supposedly informed opinions about races where we actually had some decisions to make. Instead of advice, the editorial issued a dubious epitaph for Carleton’s student government, proclaiming that the state of the CSA “is not a good one” due to a non-competitive presidential race.

Aside from the fact that CSA President-Elect McKay Duer’s likely competitors have plans to study abroad in either the spring or the fall (thereby rendering them ineligible to run for the office), I maintain that the editorial’s diagnosis of the CSA is off the mark. Indeed, with nine terms of Senate under my belt, I can safely say that the outgoing CSA administration was the most organized and effective group of officers the campus has had in a long while. Under these officers’ tutelage, CSA has renovated Upper Sayles, expanded financial aid to encompass the student activity fee, actively advocated student interests in the curriculum discussion with the faculty, and created the Green Fund, among several other visible accomplishments. Just as notable, CSA Senators and Officers have continued to embody pluralism, representing the multitude of constituent groups on the campus, including student organizations, club and varsity sports athletes, academic majors, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and concerned groups of students who seek changes in either CSA or college policy.

At least on this campus, poor governance, misrepresentation, and misinformation breeds competitive elections, such as the ones previous Carleton students witnessed in the 2004-2005 academic year, when 28 students ran. The current Senate has “gotten its house in order” relative to past years, and most presidential contenders bowed out after realizing that McKay Duer would best sustain CSA’s success. Voter turnout doesn’t even seem correlated with candidate choice: in the 2004-2005 election, only 787 student cast their vote, while in this past election, a record 1037 students voiced their opinion. If anything, the high turnout insinuates the increased importance students now garner on CSA.

Regardless, the editorial’s misguided claim is predictable when the newspaper’s editors are misinformed and disengaged from the issues about which they write: the Carletonian editor chose not to cover any aspect of the CSA elections, and the newspaper rarely covers any aspect of campus governance, be it the meetings and actions of CSA, College Council, the Education and Curriculum Committee, or other bodies. It is the civic duty of Carleton’s long-time student newspaper to inform its readers about such matters of importance, and this editorial board has failed its chief obligation.

Ben Barclay ’09

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