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The Carletonian

As president elect, Foster to reform drug policy

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When CSA polls closed Sunday night, Marielle Foster ‘16 became the CSA’s next president-elect. Succeeding Becca Giles ’15, she is the second consecutive female CSA president, and the second vice-president to ever ascend to the presidency.

The next CSA administration will likely be similar in tone to the current one, which Foster characterizes as a group of progressive activists. But Foster is quick to assure students that she is not a radical. Instead, she desires change that will benefit all Carleton students, not just the most vocal.

For Foster, this change begins with taking a critical look at Carleton’s nightlife. Specifically, she desires better-outlined sanctions and, in general, a clearer discipline philosophy.

“We don’t have an alcohol and other drugs policy for all intents and purposes,” said Foster. “It says, ‘don’t do alcohol, don’t do drugs,’ which is not a policy. There should be clearer rules about what’s enforced, why, and what happens when you do things.”

And for Foster, creating a more rules-transparent campus begins with new student week.

“We don’t talk about ‘other drugs’ really in new student week. For instance, Jack gets caught smoking weed and having alcohol in his room. What happens? I don’t know. I’m an RA and I have no idea what will happen to him. That’s not spelled out anywhere.”

But apart from the alcohol side of nightlife, Foster is also concerned about the more socially negative repercussions of partying, especially for women.

“We don’t do anything about slut-shaming. There’s nothing about that. Think back to your new student week experiences; how many times did you hear a woman be judged for their sexual activities as a first year, right off the bat. I mean, upwards of 50… I know people’s reputations from their freshman fall. Like, why do I know that?”

But a changing nightlife for Foster is not just about reputations. It is also about safety. Attempts by administrators to make new student week events more mandatory are good, she says, “because consent is sexy, but it’s also fucking mandatory. I like the way Carleton parties are often very inclusive, but I think that there are aspects about nightlife that make it unsafe for people, like people of color, women.” Nightlife, however, is not the only area where she feels students are being marginalized. Socio-economically, Carleton ranks below a number of its peer institutions in terms of need- based aid given annually. This is partly due to the fact that Carleton is not need-blind and does not, according to Foster, have the buying power to afford more socioeconomically diverse students.

“But,” she says, “Carleton could do better, and is trying to do better. Because, we’re leaving behind the middle class, we’re leaving behind the lower class. Half of Carleton is not on any form of financial aid. That is a sizeable chunk of Carleton making enough money to pay 60,000 dollars per year.”

She worries that a high-proportion of well-off students creates an atmosphere where traditionally underrepresented students feel unheard. Club funding, an area she has dealt with extensively as head of the CSA budget committee, is a way minority students in the past have been left out.

“The stereotype of budget committee being against cultural groups predates my time at Carleton,” said Foster. “The reason we deny requests is because they ask for too much funding. I think funding is a very touchy subject at Carleton, and a lot of what people say isn’t true.”

To change this perception, Foster sees a redesigned CSA website as a way to better the CSA-club dynamic. “The website is disastrous,” she said. “I was employed by web services over break, and completely sketched out a whole new format for how to charter clubs, how spring Als work; there’s a whole bunch of things that I want to fix.”

Fixing things, however, takes time, especially during senior year when academic stresses can be overwhelming, Foster is upset that the CSA executive positions remain unpaid. And, for students who work a campus job, this lack of compensation can be prohibitive to seeking office: “Many students need to have a job, and also, they can’t quit their job midway through the year. It’s a socioeconomic equity issue.”

Yet, for Foster, her most important agenda item might also be the most pedestrian: “To do a reasonable job at what the president is supposed to do. I think often the best management style is invisible.”

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