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Prospective CSA Senate member outlines recent meeting

Hi, everyone. I’m one of your College Council Liaison-elects and a prospective member of the CSA Senate. Something I noticed when I was campaigning is that a lot of people feel unclear on what CSA actually does; some doubt it does anything at all. Since my election I’ve begun attending Senate meetings, and, given these perceptions, I feel it’s worthwhile to share my experiences thus far.

My first meeting (05/20) began with an overview of some requests for funding from student organizations that had passed through the CSA Budget Committee, which Senate now had to approve. Much of CSA’s money goes to student organizations and their events, which we’re responsible for funding. We also fund big campus-wide events like Spring Concert.

After Budget Committee approvals, things heated up. Paul Thiboutot, VP of Admissions, had come before the Senate for his yearly visit. In spite of this being his final time here, my fellow Senators pulled no punches. Discussion turned to why financial aid doesn’t fully cover students’ laundry costs. When Mr. Thiboutot referred us to the emergency funds available at the Dean’s Office for non-academic costs like laundry, one Senator raised their personal experience having difficulty in securing the funds they needed. We worried this difficulty was exemplary of a wider campus issue.

A few days after the meeting, a few of us met outside of Senate to discuss some concrete solutions to the problem. This is what’s called a working group, a smaller subsection of Senators working on a specific issue on campus. In Senate, working groups focus on a wide array of issues ranging from promoting stainability to managing the CSA textbook library. Our first move was to put out a survey on the laundry problem, to gauge how many students were having issues paying.

As it turns out, that was around 30% of respondents, even more than we anticipated. This presents us with a challenge. As we discussed this Monday (05/27), paying for everyone’s laundry is likely implausible, and there are serious bureaucratic hurdles in creating a potential laundry fund, even just for those who can’t afford it.

I don’t know how it’s going to shake out. We’ve called on Dean Livingston, who’s responsible for the administration’s emergency funds, to elaborate on the issue. From there, solutions might range from increasing advertisement of these emergency funds or easing access to them, to calling on the admin to allocate more funds to this stash, to pushing through those bureaucratic hurdles and setting up a laundry fund of our own.

But I do know one thing. I know we are going to fight like hell to solve this problem, any way we can. That, really, is what CSA does. We’re a group of passionate kids who are working to make people’s lives better, be it through funding Sproncert, or, for a recent example, through the work my good buddy Luke Norquist (among others) has done to get student worker wages raised. I don’t know if we’ll win this time, but I know we’ll keep fighting hard for y’all, no matter what. With love, Sid

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