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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Conversation, not confrontation

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CSA Senate had a student come to our meeting this past Monday evening, as many have heard already, with the intention of drawing attention to who speaks, particularly regarding their gender and racial identities. The student blew an airhorn every third man and every fourth white person who spoke consecutively.

I completely understand the sentiment behind this action. I am frustrated by what is a lack of diversity in who feels comfortable or empowered to speak up in meetings, and as a member of the executive team these past four terms, have worked and am working to try and change these dynamics. I know I am not alone in this sentiment, and in trying to build a safer, more collaborative and respectful senate. I am always willing to talk, brainstorm, try new ideas or assist in any other way to be a better leader.

CSA Senate meetings should be a place where all people feel safe to speak, express themselves, and have respectful and vigorous conversations. Blowing an airhorn repeatedly for myself and other students was triggering and disrespectful. There are plenty of ways to draw attention to lack of diversity in our discussions and this felt confrontational and aggressive. Having received no advance warning or consultation, taking action in this manner denied the value of the good work we’ve been doing to become more respectful and inclusive group, and put everyone on the defensive. Calling people out so publicly meant students felt guilt for their verbal participation or absence based on their identities, which as we saw in our meeting is not a motivator for good governance or diligent discussion. A larger campus trend towards confrontation as the first step makes me nervous for all the good conversations, all the misunderstandings being solved, all the respectful collaborations that could happen, but aren’t often. Additionally, assuming gender and racial identities of those individuals at senate is counterproductive and invalidating. Just

considering these forms of diversity misses many parts of people’s identities and why someone would or wouldn’t feel comfort- able speaking or joining in a discussion. Also, as happened at the meeting, assuming someone’s identity is blunt and can be unfair or cruel. While someone may appear to conform to an identity a certain way, or enjoy the privileges of presenting a dominant identity, brusquely deciding that for them is inappropriate and disrespectful, much the same as using someone’s non-preferred gender pronouns or discounting someone’s experiences.

People at Carleton are really busy, almost laughably so. And yet I always get people with questions, concerns, and curiosity about what CSA does, what they think it should do better and dozens of other ideas. Please feel free to come to our meetings, we have open comments at the end in which any attendee can speak.

Anyone who wants to present something to Senate should email me and we can find a mutually good time for you to come in. If you do decide to attend a meeting in the future, please be respectful and thoughtful about how you participate- these meetings should help all students feel safe, heard and included.

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