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The Carletonian

Speak up: make your opinons heard

< to think that the CSA Senate was doing something wrong when people would ask me, when it came up in a conversation that I was a Senator (and now Vice President), "what do you guys do, really?"

I would start out by saying how we handle half a million dollars a year, the majority of which goes directly to student groups like the BSA, venues like The Cave, and events like Spring Concert. It takes a sentence to say, but it often takes 25 hours of my time a week to deal with, as well as countless hours from the wonderful people in Campus Activities, the CSA Treasurer and the dozens of members of Budget Committee and Senate.

I then would go on to explain that members of the Senate use their position as an excuse to satisfy their curiosity about the inner workings of the College, and then share that knowledge with their peers who are not so inclined. In fact, this conversation comes up most often when I’m answering a question or clearing up a misconception. I think this sort of sharing has a lot of value and it, too, takes many hours of time. There’s not a “This is How the College Works” handbook that we breeze through and then report on. We just have this perverse desire to learn more about the College and share what we learn with others.

If at this point my questioner is still paying attention (which is less than likely), I point out how we make sure that students get seats on committees like AFAC, or CEDI, or CRIC, and try to ensure that they have a genuine interest in them before selecting them. We approve student group charters, or ask for clarification if a charter isn’t particularly clear, ensuring that a group has relevance beyond its founders.

We stay in touch with the deans, with Res Life, with OIL, the GSC, TRIO, Bon Appetit, the Admissions Office, the Faculty… the list goes on. We try to ensure that the offices that serve the student body have their interests aligned with the student body.  We pass and write resolutions, carefully worded to catch the interest of our administration and the Board of Trustees, to let them know what we as students are interested in. Sometimes they don’t seem particularly effective, but they are a formal voicing of the opinion of the student body, and are viewed as such by our rulers/benefactors.

I could go on, and it wouldn’t be irrelevant, dull or boring should you be interested in what Senate does for you. The thing is, what we do is published all over the place. We have weekly updates in The Carletonian, we have our Minutes published both for the Senate and for the Budget Committee. We now even have updates in some bathroom stalls. We invite Carletonian journalists to our meetings and debates (the editors have come to a meeting, which we greatly appreciate.) We table in Sayles. We make banners. We send out emails. NNB ads. Posters. You can come to our meetings; they’re all open, and we’d love to have you come, and we’d love to hear from you at them.

So I know, now, that Senate isn’t doing things the wrong way, and we’re not really falling short of making what we do public. We just often don’t hear what it is that Carls need.

So if another Carl is upset that Senate “doesn’t do anything” or “isn’t doing enough” or “isn’t transparent” or “needs to increase their publicity” I submit to that person a friendly challenge: give me, or any other Senator, a suggestion. An idea. It is all too easy to say that something needs to be improved. It is far more difficult, evidently, to offer a solution or even a bit of advice or bring the problem that is so upsetting as to merit loud public complaint to a Senator.

We have a comment box on our website, and hopefully we’ll have one soon in the Great Space. We all have email addresses as well: mine is, for some strange reason, “hodesh”. We have posted office hours, as well. These are all there to enable you to easily contact us so we can, just perhaps, solve your problem.

And now, a final request. We’ve appealed in every way we possibly could to get opinions on the Wellness Center, and though we received at least 200 responses, no doubt more than 200 of you have used the Wellness Center, and no doubt more than 200 of you have had a less than stellar experience there in some way or another. Today you have another chance to let the Trustees know that you want change: they will be the the folks in power suits wandering about Campus appearing woefully out of place, but looking longingly at our hallowed halls they protect but no longer live in. You can find them in Burton Dining Hall and Sayles from 12-1, eating delicious Carleton fare. They have the sway and the say over the College’s administration and funds to enact the change we want to see. And they want to make Carleton better, too; they just have the same problem the CSA Senate does: they can’t hear us.

So let’s be heard. Complaining is easy, and speaking in sweeping generalities is satisfying and empowering. But changes happen when the people inclined to put in the time to make change happen know what, exactly, the changes are you want.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Isaac Hodes

CSA Vice President ’12

-Isaac Hodes is a second-year student. 

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