Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Letter to the Editors

<; January 17th editorial in the Carletonian criticized CSA spending practices, but ignored the steps CSA has taken to fix those very practices. At the heart of the editorial was a failure to understand the structure of the CSA account.

The money in the CSA account can be divided into two categories, the annual budget and the rollover. The annual budget consists of the total student activity fees for the year and makes up the basis for CSA spending. The rollover consists of unspent money from previous years. Most of this money came from student organizations that under-spent their budget. For instance if a student organization receives $100 from the CSA, but only spends $80 over the course of the year, the remaining $20 would be added to the rollover. Even if the CSA spends their entire annual budget, it is still possible to add to the rollover if student organizations do not spend all of the money budgeted to them. This problem was exacerbated by rules requiring the CSA to hold $65,000 of their annual budget in reserve for spending emergencies. The unspent portion of this reserve was also added to the rollover each year. It is important to note that the vast majority of money in the rollover did not come from current students, but instead has built up over the last couple of decades. Until this year there was no mechanism for spending the rollover.

This brings us to the spending reforms instituted this year. The first reform was eliminating the requirement to hold $65,000 in reserves in the annual budget. Instead they are required to maintain $45,000 from the rollover in reserves. This means the CSA is no longer required to add some of your money to the rollover each year.  Effectively it’s the same as increasing the CSA’s annual budget by $65,000 without raising student activity fee. For the last several years the student activity has risen only to keep pace with inflation and baring some unforeseen crisis will likely continue to rise only with inflation. The editorial’s evidence to the contrary was taken out of context and is no representative of the CSA’s decision on the matter.

In addition, they created the Committee on Student Projects (CSP) to spend the money from the rollover, which was otherwise sitting untouched in the CSA account. Again the rollover consists of money not spent by student organizations over the last couple of decades.  The vast majority of money did not come from current students. Using the rollover to reduce the fee would only mean a much steeper jump in the activity fee when the rollover was eventually exhausted. Furthermore, given the nature of the rollover, this would not constitute a return of your money but a redistribution of money from students who graduated years ago.

Finally I wish to address the editorial’s criticism of CSA spending. For instance their suggestion that it is hypocritical to fund both student publications and environmental organizations – as if it were somehow wrong for different students to have different priorities or CSA ought to only fund student organizations with a single consistent set of values. As to the redundancy of funding multiple environmental organizations, I’ll leave it to CANOE and Farm Club to explain the difference between outdoor sports and sustainable agriculture.

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