Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

CSA President Walter Paul talks policy, campus climate goals

<rletonian sat down with CSA President Walter Paul to discuss his goals for the year, campus climate issues, and the relationship between students and the administration. Here are some highlights from the interview.

Q: As President, what are your goals for CSA this year and what do you hope to accomplish?

A: In my platform, what I set out to do was to structure CSA in a way that will centralize students in the CSA process.

I think it’s beginning with three key initiatives. The first is by creating an Office of Health Promotion liaison position in CSA Senate, and that’s really a response to the growing demand for attention being paid to mental health. We’re also helping out a campus mental health initiative that was started by class of 2018 students for athletes. What I hope CSA can do is just propel [these mental health initiatives].

The second initiative is [continuing] our unconditional and persistent support of the CSA textbook library, because we think it’s an excellent program that responds to a demanding need, especially for low-income students on campus who can’t afford those $200 worth of books.

The final thing that we’re doing in this effort to make CSA amenable to students is creating a media publicity and outreach committee, and that’s really to help students understand what CSA Senate is, to expand our outreach, help our publicity and make CSA more of a welcoming environment. We’re trying to invite [students] and say, ‘you know, there’s an open seat for you in CSA Senate.’

A final note is, I think CSA holds a very special position on this campus because it’s in the middle of a perceived diversion between students and the administration.

Q: Do you think that there are any misunderstandings between the students and the administration?

A: I think the broader issue is really a translation of languages. I think the administration speaks one language; the students speak another. The administration, to the extent that I’ve experienced them, which is mainly through the Dean of Students Office, they’ve implemented a lot of initiatives that are helping students out on campus. They brought in a black male counselor, they are bringing in desktops to put in dorms so it’s accessible to low-income students, the Chromebook program and also the emergency funding program. It’s just fascinating to think that for low-income students there’s who are Pell-eligible there’s $1000 there for them to use for the year.

I think the biggest thing we can communicate to [students] is that the administration is not your enemy. I think that’s the big thing is that they care. That’s what I’ve gathered, because I did run on a platform that was very critical of the administration, because I was on the outside, but after communicating with them and working with them I think it’s more so translating the languages between both sides. I would also note that I’m introducing a bylaw tomorrow during the Senate meeting that would allow the CSA President to serve on the Board of Trustees Student Life Committee.

Q: What, in your opinion, are the most pressing campus climate issues right now?

A: I think one of the major issues is how we address race relations, how we address those micro-level offenses and help marginalized groups on campus feel more comfortable and more welcomed on campus. I honestly think that there’s a honeymoon stage during New Student Week where students are very uppity and happy, and I think what that is, is just that hope that they have for their experience at Carleton, but you go through certain experiences here, and the high standard that, ironically, the administration sets for living at Carleton, gets subtracted from because of racial offenses that you’ve experienced, or discrimination because of your sexual orientation.

I also think a big thing is politics and people’s political affiliation. It’s no new news to say that Carleton is a very liberal campus and sometimes we forget that there are conservatives and people of different political orientations, on campus. In a sense, they are marginalized and they have to shut down their viewpoints in an environment where they’re promised that those viewpoints will be valued. How do you tell a majority, large, active group of liberals ‘hey, listen to this small group of conservatives.’

I think liberalism is a dominant culture and a lot of the time it dominates the culture of Carleton. Sometimes, for example, Congress may make a decision that leans conservative, and we may come to the conclusion that that is wrong and hold rallies and events to demonstrate how wrong it is and we forget to ask the question: ‘Wrong for who? Wrong in what sense?’ Let’s debate that and let’s see what other viewpoints are out there.

Q: Do you think that ideology of being fair to everyone has impacted how the administration communicates with students? Do they feel pressure to stay neutral?

A: I don’t want to speak for the administration, but I think that they have to remember that they’re not just representing one group of students and not only one group of students, but one group of alumni, one group of parents. They have to take that into account, because it’s not only students who see the messages that they send, it’s also people who contribute a lot to the college.

I often think with issues like DACA the administration can advocate, because [those issues affect] students and sometimes it’s their health and their situation on campus [at stake]. I would say that oftentimes, as CSA President, I’m less stringent about the positions I take and I think that’s just because I have that liberty and they don’t.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *