Ever wonder what happened to the CSA Student Projects (outdoor basketball courts, standing desks in the library, wifi on the baldspot, etc.) that were passed last year?
Government, even at the Carleton student level, tends to move in a fixed rhythm. First of all, despite popular belief, CSA and the Committee for Student Projects (CSP) are separate student organizations that work together to implement changes that were suggested and voted on by the general student body.
Ideas that are brainstormed in the fall are then proposed to Senate in the winter, voted upon, and implemented either in the spring or in the following fall term. According to Jonathan Gillespie (’17), there are a number of reasons for this pace which include the administrative budgeting schedule, but also the frequent turnover rate on the Student Projects committee. People on the committee graduate, go abroad, or leave the committee, and while the Senate treasurer is the chair, they generally have a new one either every year or two. The current committee, which is composed of only six students, is in the process of implementing the projects that were proposed and passed last year.
Projects that have already been implemented include new hot water heaters in Olin and the Weitz, and standing desks in the library. Currently, one standing desk has been installed in the rookery (the room on 4th libe with all of the children’s books), and plans are being made to add more throughout the libe, hopefully by the end of the term. According to Timothy Oliver (’17), “sitting for extended periods of time can have adverse affects on both posture and general health, so these new desks provide an alternative for people who don’t want to sit down for 6 hours in a row when they are studying or doing homework in the library.”
Gillespie’s personal project, installing a new Sayles order number display box on the second floor, was also suggested last Spring term and will be sponsored by both the Carleton administration and Bon Appetit. In his opinion, the committee is an effective way to help get projects up and running, but not an effective way to generate ideas.
“The idea generation really needs to come from CSA/ SOA/student suggestions. So what makes the committee effective at generating new ideas is its ability to raise awareness that the CSA has 200k sitting around to be used to better campus.” Oliver added that committees like the CSP allow students to actively propose and help implement changes that they want to see around campus, and that the best interests of the student body “hold the committees accountable and motivate them to actually do good and make positive changes.”
For all of the other projects that were proposed and passed last year, such as wifi on the baldspot, the CSP is in communication with campus offices about implementing them. This past Monday, Ben Strauss ’16, chair of the CSP, presented a proposal for rescinding approval for the basketball court because of the cost, the large reduction in this year’s budget, new members on the CSP, and lack of progress on the project itself. However, according to Strauss, the Senate voted to continue the implementation of the basketball court project. After seeing Senate’s vote, the Committee for Student Projects voted to accept responsibility for implementing the outdoor basketball courts project and voted to form a task force for that purpose.
He said, “I very much appreciate Senate’s feedback on the project. While the Committee for Students expressed concerns with the project’s large costs, we never doubted that the project had merit and that many students wished to see it implemented. The basketball court project has been the single topic to receive the most votes in Senate and its subcommittees in the past year. Now, the Committee for Student Projects will work to implement it in earnest.”
With that, the debate about the outdoor basketball courts is over. The controversial project that received one-sixth of the student population’s votes, but also received more votes against than for it, will move forward.