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Four-way race for CSA president

Election season at Carleton is officially underway, and four students have declared their bid to replace Jancyn Appel ‘23 as Carleton Student Association (CSA) President. Quinn Buchman ‘24, Michael Carey ‘24, Shaheer Jaffar ‘24 and Stephanie Lee ‘24 have declared their candidacy for the top position in student government. 

Candidates have released their platforms on Carleton’s website, setting out their priorities if they are elected. Candidates released a slew of ambitious goals, touching on graduation requirements, student wages, campus food and healthcare. 

Whoever is elected will face an uphill battle in implementing their platforms, as CSA plays a purely advisory role when it comes to most topics covered in candidates’ platforms. 

All candidates touched on graduation requirements in one form or another. CSA veteran and former treasurer Buhman advocated for changes geared towards STEM majors, including the creation of a Pre-Med major, additional credits for lab classes and a re-evaluation of humanities-based graduation requirements. 

“I will work to reevaluate these requirements and make changes that promote a more flexible and inclusive academic experience with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and less on ‘checking boxes’ for requirements such as writing rich or humanistic inquiry,” wrote Buchamn. 

Shaheer Jaffar ‘24 also took issue with the current graduation requirements, but rather took aim at the language requirements, which he sees as “painstakingly hard and long.” Jaffar advocated for changing the language requirement “either by reducing the number of classes that need to be taken or reducing the credits of those to potentially two to three on a Pass/Fail basis.” 

He also pushed for the administration to “let international/bi-multilingual students petition to skip the [language] graduation requirement as soon as they get to Carleton.” 

However, this is already an option; Students can test out of the language requirement in the summer before they come to Carleton through language placement testing. When asked for comment, Jaffar explained he intends to make the process “more accessible and efficient.”

“Many international or bilingual students may not be aware that they can test out of language requirements before their first registration. My goal is to make this information more readily available to them prior to their enrollment at Carleton,” said Jaffar. “Even for those who are aware, the process can still be challenging due to the variability in testers and difficulty levels across languages. It often depends on luck as to who conducts the test, which can seem unfair.”

Other candidates touched on the topic of the student-workers’ wages. Michael Carrey ‘24, new to CSA, criticized Carleton for paying “nearly minimum wage” to student workers, asking, “does this sound like what a school with a billion dollar endowment that cares about its students would do?”

Carleton currently pays $12 an hour compared to Minnesota minimum wage, which is $10.59 an hour. Carrey plans to seek parity between jobs in the Northfield community and on-campus work. 

Stephanie Lee ‘24 similarly wants to increase student wages. Lee proposed that all Carleton student-workers have their pay raised $3 to $15 an hour. Lee was the only one of the candidates who included a plan to reach her proposed $15 wage:

“I propose to work together with the Board of Trustees to review the possibility of liquidating from the returns of the endowment for this initiative and look at the financial package restructuring efforts that are currently underway with the financial aid working group,” wrote Lee. 

Buhman also proposed raising wages to $15 an hour, citing the needs of international students and break workers in particular. “I will push to establish a better method for supporting international students and break workers and advocate to increase all student wages to match local pay structures more closely, moving toward a wage rate of $15 an hour,” wrote Buhman.

All candidates also touched on the topic of healthcare and well-being at Carleton. In his platform, Carey addressed the limited availability of counseling services at SHAC, and promised to work towards better support for students struggling with their mental health. 

Jaffar also commented on SHAC, specifically in regards to sexual health. He advocated for a regular newsletter regarding sexual health and promoting the STD testing services SHAC provides. Additionally, he put forward a plan to collaborate with SHAC “to offer no-cost STD testing for students who lack health insurance coverage or have insurance plans that do not include these services.” 

For his part in the conversation about health on campus, Buhan proposed “a broader campus conversation about how we view academics at Carleton and pursue a path that focuses on quality discussions and deep understanding of topics but with a balanced workload.”

Lee also addressed health in her platform, specifically the topic of abortion. Lee is calling for SHAC and the SMPR Office to “provide the adequate resources for a student looking to have an abortion. These resources include: abortion-friendly clinics, funding to cover medical costs and mental health support.” 

She also criticized the current health insurance plan for international students, calling it “non-comprehensive and non-affordable.” She wants to investigate other options for international health insurance, including choosing a new plan or allowing students to choose their own. 

CSA elections will open Friday, Feb. 16, 2023 at 5pm and close on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 11:59pm.

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