The Carleton Student Association (CSA) represents the student body through class representatives, liaisons, a treasurer and a president and vice president. Currently, elections are going on for the 2022 these positions, with Jancyn Appel ‘23 and Binny Onabolu ‘23 running for president. Their platforms can be found through an email sent by current CSA president Molly Zuckerman, and on the CSA website. This is the first year that both candidates running for president have been Black women, making it a historical election. The following is a Q&A with each candidate explaining their platform, goals and plans as CSA president. Voting will occur on the ninth weekend and elections are being post- ed for class representatives, treasurer and president, as Mariam Zewdu has already been named vice president.
The following Q&A is with Binny Onabolu.
What is your previous experience with the CSA? Why did you decide to run for president?
I served in CSA my freshman year during the 2019/2020 academic year as a class representative. During my time as class representative, my application centered on my desire to serve my class by building community. I ensured I followed through on my promised initiative by planning and facilitating class socials intended to bring the Carleton class together. I, along with my co-class representative, planned one social event for every term we held; in the fall, we planned a class bonfire, and in the winter, we planned a Valentine’s Day special at the Cave. We also had office hours once every week in Sayles to ensure that our constituents had access to us. Our initiative was credited for being the first of its kind, with class representatives of other class years also hosting class socials and office hours to strengthen community. I am running to serve as the next CSA president because of two simple words: I care. I care very deeply about ensuring that the work we do in CSA positively and directly impacts the lives of students on campus. Coming to Carleton as a low-income student, I was so relieved to find CSA initiatives such as the textbook library and laundry services that helped unload some of the financial stressors I expected to face. These initiatives inspired my time in CSA as I worked on projects that increased equity and accessibility on campus, including increasing accessibility to menstrual products for menstruating students on campus. I plan to continue in this trajectory during my time serving as CSA’s next president by ensuring that CSA pays attention to the overlooked and underrepresented needs of students on campus.
I am also running to serve as the next CSA president because I believe that I have spent the past three years on Carleton’s campus building a skill our campus is in great need of at this time: coming together. We need to be strategic in our advocacy, and unity is our most viable strategy. The Ujamaa Collective has unified and continues the hard work at unifying the advocacy and social lives of the members of the Black student organizations on our campus. I believe that CSA’s access to the entire student body, as well as members of faculty, staff and administration, puts the organization in a viable position—and, if not used correctly, a complicit position — in ensuring the wellbeing of Carleton’s marginalized students on campus. It is especially important that we work at ensuring that Black and LGBTQ+ students are not the only ones fighting for themselves but we are increasing awareness to students who are not affected by these institutionalized disadvantages that disparage the lives of these students on campus. CSA’s access to all of the student organizations can help unify our activism and ensure that the organizations on campus are proactively working towards inclusion and equity.
What is one thing you think CSA does well right now? What is one thing you’d like to change about CSA?
I believe that CSA has done a great job in trying new things. Although many of the current student representatives who worked on CSA’s thrift store would say that it was a failure, I believe it was still a success in bringing CSA to its students in a creative way. I also love the $5 Friday initiative because I believe it accomplished that same purpose. I believe in trying new things,making new traditions in order to see what is successful and adapting our strategy to the demands of the times we live in. It is important to fail, because we learn by failing. I subscribe to Beverly Tatum’s philosophy in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, where she suggests that we have to make steps, even ones we are not sure are perfect, because it gets us in closer proximity to our goals. We can use innocent but unsuccessful attempts to foreground our conversations on how to do better by the goals we have and the people we serve. I believe that the creativity I see coming out of CSA is a commendable effort in trying to better the lives of students on campus, and I believe that even when they are unsuccessful, the executives and representatives have done a great job at holding themselves accountable on the most viable next steps to take.
I believe that something CSA can and will do better under my leadership is being more sustainable in taking care of the students that serve in the organization. The leaders who serve on CSA are students first and, as such, their added commitment to CSA needs to be nurtured in a way that acknowledges and accommodates that. CSA needs to be a conducive, positive and affirming environment. In order to meet this goal, I have proposed holding one meeting a month dedicated to self-care to make sure the student board members have sufficient support. During these monthly meetings, we will give students the option to either engage in a bonding activity that could happen either on or off campus or to take that time to build in some self-care for themselves. Additionally, at the end of the term, we will have celebratory meetings in which we assess the goals we set out and how well we accomplished them. This will give us a clear and unified map of where we are and where we set out to go in the coming terms.
Candidates often set goals that are far-reaching and difficult to accomplish – how confident are you in your ability to accomplish your goals? What will you prioritize?
I don’t believe in setting goals without a formidable plan as well as steps to track how well we are proceeding in attaining those goals. I believe that all of the goals I have laid out are viable and will be achievable once we have an organized plan and clear communication amongst CSA representatives and other parties involved as well. An example is my priority in acquiring a Black Student Center as the Ujamaa Collective demands. While the IDE plan has stated their interest in building and accommodating a Black Student Center in their residential housing plan and amongst multicultural spaces on campus, they can specify the how of these plans by collaborating with and having better engagement with the unified vision outlined by the Ujamaa Collective’s demands..
Anything to add?
I would love to represent you as your next CSA president! VOTE FOR ME! VOTE FOR ME!! VOTE FOR ME!!!!!