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CSA Presidential candidates Masakura, Mullan discuss presidential platforms

Carleton Student Association (CSA) elections began on Thursday, February 21, and voting remains open until Sunday, February 24. This election cycle features two presidential candidates: Anesu Masakura ’20 and John Mullan ’20. Masakura is an Economics major and Public Policy minor from Zimbabwe, and Mullan is a Computer Science major and Chinese minor from the Minneapolis area.

Both candidates have CSA experience. Mullan has served as Class of 2020 Representative, Treasurer, and on Budget Committee, while Masakura has served as Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) Liaison, Office of Intercultural & International Life (OIIL) Liaison, and on Budget Committee. The candidates’ platforms are available on the CSA website.

Both candidates have been involved with Carleton extracurriculars beyond CSA that they believe will inform their presidencies.

Masakura explained that his participation in Mock Trial has taught him a good deal about how to work with others—a skill he said will translate well to the CSA presidency. Because the CSA president sits on many committees and groups, including the Board of Trustees, Masakura said that it is vital that the he feel comfortable contributing in those kinds of environments. He added that his time as the African and Caribbean Student Association Treasurer helped him understand the student body’s perspective in interacting with CSA Senate. “I knew what it was like to go to the Budget Committee as a club leader,” he said.

Mullan’s principal campus activity before CSA Treasurer was working as a Residential Assistant (RA) in Nourse. During that time, said Mullan, he realized that the executive team members for CSA Senate devote a lot of time to their positions. Because of this, he eventually decided to forego reapplying for the RA position in order to focus more time outside of his academic life toward improving Senate. Mullan emphasized that this decision helped him understand the commitment serving as a CSA executive team member requires.

Masakura and Mullan both pointed to specific moments in their time on Senate that inspired them.

As a member of the Political Activism Committee (a CSA Senate working group), Masakura was responsible for promoting campus-wide dialogue surrounding issues such as gun violence and cultural appropriation.

“I realized that I enjoyed promoting such dialogue on campus, even though it is uncomfortable,” said Masakura. “But it’s still productive.” Masakura hopes to continuing holding these conversations as CSA President.

Mullan highlighted a recent instance when a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student came to the Senate and expressed frustration and concern that there were not more support networks—particularly financial support networks—in place for DACA students.

Though some students receive grants from the Dean of Students office, those grants have limits. According to Mullan, that moment made him think about the $32,000 set aside yearly from Senate’s budget for the Student Support Activity Fund, and how that can be adapted or increased.

Mullan’s platform involves looking to peer institutions—schools like Grinnell, Amherst, and Williams—for insight on restructuring CSA. Mullan plans to pose questions to those institutions’ student governments to see if they struggle with similar issues to Carleton’s CSA, such as representation and engagement. Mullan hopes to discuss peers’ approach to resolving these issues and will take that advice as a starting point. For instance, Mullan thinks focus groups, which St. Olaf’s student government actively uses, would help gauge student understanding of and opinions about CSA Senate.

Masakura noted his disappointment upon hearing that many CSA working groups were not meeting with offices that could provide assistance. He cited the Mental Health Working Group, which met only once with the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) during fall term. Masakura believes working groups must become more efficient and increase collaboration with relevant campus offices. One way this can be accomplished, said Masakura, is by creating chairs for each working group so someone is held particularly accountable for the group’s work.

Another part of Mullan’s platform involves educating students on issues affecting marginalized and underrepresented identities on campus. Mullan believes one way to implement this idea is to work more closely with Residential Life and RAs. Through Residential Life programming for students, Mullan hopes to create space for Carleton students to “look at the connections and intersection of yourself to other Carleton students as well.” He thinks the CSA can use Governance Committee and the Committee for Outreach, Media, and Publicity (COMP) to work closely with student groups on campus on advertising for these events.

A focal point of Masakura’s platform is promoting organic change on campus. He wants to collaborate with student groups to determine areas of reform and promote change.According to Masakura, senators and students alike must be encouraged to engage more with administrators who come to Senate meetings, which take place on Mondays in the Great Hall. He plans to work on opening up these discussions and suggested moving them to more inviting spaces such as the Sayles-Hill Great Space.

“Thanks to past CSA administrations, CSA has become more relevant and visible and I’m really proud of the work that Walter Paul and Apoorva Handigol have done on that front,” said Masakura. “But I think more can be done to make students engage more with CSA.”

“Do students like us enough?” asked Masakura. “If we’re likeable enough, then students will be drawn to engage more in what we do. I think they’ll be drawn to what we do if they actually see something happening on campus.” Masakura said he aims to determine how Senate can reach out to students and utilize campus structures more efficiently to connect with students.

He also intends to reintroduce the idea of executive pay. Masakura said that executive pay would compensate for the considerable time commitment that CSA positions demand and could help attract students who might not be able to participate in Senate because of aspects such as work study.

Mullan is also concerned with issues of CSA representation. Mullan believes uncontested positions are problematic for representation, but also indicate a wider problem of disengagement. “If there’s not competition among the candidates, I think it indicates a general feeling of the power or legitimacy that CSA has,” said Mullan.

To address the issue, Mullan plans to focus on what it means to govern in CSA. Once problems are identified and proposed, they are passed on to the administration, but the work is not collaborative, said Mullan. He suggested creating groups on campus where faculty and administrators work directly with students to solve campus issues, which he hopes would encourage student participation.

This election cycle, there are  eight open CSA positions. The only contested races are those for President and Class of 2022 Representative.

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