Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian


<resent rate, the Carleton Student Association’s asinine spending policies and nonsensical red tape would make even a Californian blush. Faithful readers of these pages will know that the student association – our student association – is running an enormous surplus.  To make a long and boring story short, the CSA charges us about $250 a year (last year it hit $267), then uses the proceeds to fund clubs.  Unfortunately, Senators of the recent past have overcharged (or, as they’d tell you, underspent) to the tune of  $190,000.  Now it’s sitting in the CSA’s bank account.  They need to keep $45,000 as a reserve against overspending, but that still leaves $145,000 in extra money.

So can we all expect a refund?  Will they knock it off our next activity fee bill?  Hardly.  Unbelievable as it may seem, the CSA wants charge us even more next year.  Despite Treasurer Henry Gordon’s admission that  the fee is on par with Carleton’s peers, the Senators want to “raise it by more” with Aun Hussain declaring that “I don’t think it would be out of the realm of raising it by something like $60.”

And what of that extra $145,000?  It’s been funneled into another God-forsaken committee.  The CSP (Committee on Student Projects) is charged with “reviewing project proposals” and “helping applicants bring their ideas to fruition” – in other words, doing what the regular Senate is supposed to be doing within its own budget.  To underscore this point, the CSP’s charter concedes that it won’t meet unless the CSA’s piggy bank “exceeds $65,000” and that it will “receive proposals until the General Fund has been spent down to appropriate levels.”  In other words, the Committee isn’t around because we students want our representatives to spend our money more quickly and in bigger sums, but because the CSA wants to.  The idea of passing the savings along to students instead just doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.

If you ask, they’ll probably tell you that stick-in-the-mud bylaws have tied their hands to spending like a French government.  But bylaws can be changed if you vote to change them.  The CSA has already done so twice this year.  They might add that students get to vote on whatever CSP decides to fund.  But then again, a “no” vote won’t give students the option of keeping the money in their pockets.  It’ll give them the option of restoring it to the CSA’s own bulging coffers.

Why they need it is anyone’s guess.  The campus publication racks in Sayles are currently littered with a comics magazine, a gender and racial discrimination awareness pamphlet, a sports magazine, a satirical newspaper,  a glossy graphic design magazine and what amounts to a printed-out message board – all printed and distributed separately, at CSA expense.  

Not content to merely flood our student center with publications, the Senators have just forked over $500 of the best to the Climate Justice Coalition.  It joins SOPE, CANOE, CRIC, Farm Club, Food Truth, and Kids for Conservation in helping the environment on the CSA dole – funded separately, meeting in different rooms, and battling each other to attract the same group of kids.  If they work hard enough, maybe they’ll offset the environmental cost of all that paper and ink the Senators are bankrolling.  

The CSA even tried to use a recent $20,000 grant from ITS to put Wifi on the quad – here, in the fourth-coldest state in the Union, in a space where students can do work for approximately three weeks out of the year.  Undoubtedly it’s bold and innovative ideas like that which will catch the eye of the new committee.

To many students, especially those whose parents are coughing up all of the $60,000 it costs to be quirky, the CSA fee might seem like small potatoes.  It’s not.  The attitude behind this shameful debacle – “Why let students spend what we can take from them and spend ourselves?!” – is how our tuition got so high in the first place.  God knows we don’t need our own elected representatives squeezing us for even more.

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