Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Why does nobody care about CSA?

<day in the Libe, I overheard a conversation between two students. Student A, upon seeing a Facebook ad for CSA elections, asked Student B, “Am I supposed to vote in this?” Student B shrugged and responded that she had no intention of voting. Student A clicked on his next Facebook invite and they moved on to another topic.

Carleton is an elite liberal arts college filled with intelligent students and dedicated professors. We pride ourselves on being well-informed citizens of the world, interested in making a difference in our community, and taking a stand for issues we believe in. Why then, is there such limited interest in student government—the single organization on campus with the most power to implement real changes in college policy and the way our campus functions?

The numbers speak for themselves. In the Spring 2010 elections, only 627 students voted, and 769 this past winter: respectively 33 and 40 percent of the student body. 

This is not to say students are the only ones responsible for this lack of participation. While CSA has improved its outreach, more can still be done to raise awareness about student government politics.

Not only is it a struggle to get many Carleton students to cast their vote; there are shockingly few students who actually choose to run for Senate positions. Three races in this term’s election went uncontested, and in last term’s election, all three officer positions, that is, president, vice president, and treasurer, went uncontested. A student government in which students don’t vote or participate is not serving its purpose.

CSA’s decisions directly impact all students on campus; they provide funding for all student organizations, club sports and religious groups. Senate serves as the voice of the student body to the administration, with representatives sitting on all of the major committees on campus. When policies arise that we want to see changed, it is the job of Carleton Senators to connect us with the policy makers and be our voice in that conversation.

The most recent example of this process is the proposed S/Cr/NC policy changes for the 2012-2013 academic year. The suggested changes greatly upset many students, and CSA has been actively working to represent these views to the committees responsible for approving the decision: that is, working in the direct interest of the student body.

Elections at Carleton may seem silly and insignificant. But we should recognize the great potential senate has to implement real changes on campus. By now, polls have closed and it is too late to vote. But next time CSA elections roll around, be sure to take the additional 60 seconds out of your time surfing Facebook to cast your vote.

The editorial represents the views of The Carletonian editors

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