I am writing to ask that Carleton, in particular the Carleton Student Association, provide remuneration for its CSA President, Vice-President, and Treasurer. There is only one reason why this should happen, and I think it is important enough to merit at least some consideration. I am suggesting this to benefit future officers, and to benefit Carleton College as a whole.
We have historically had very few people running in elections to be officers; in recent years, no more than two people have competed for a given position. My concern is that we are missing out on capable and interested people who must work ten hours a week as part of their financial aid package. If we have excluded a single person because they are unable to find the time to study and do schoolwork, work a campus job, and act as a CSA officer, then we are an exclusionary student government. More than any other organization on campus, the student government should be an open and inviting one. If we exclude some people from running, then we cannot say that we are truly representative of the student body.
Officers are responsible for arranging appointments and elections, ensuring that Budget Committee meets and hears requests, balancing the budget and tracking spending of groups. Officers regularly meet with trustees, with faculty, with the administration, and with students. With the help of the CSA Secretary (a position which is already paid), the all-campus emails are sent out. Clubs are chartered. Resolutions are presented. The Cave is renovated. A textbook exchange is created. Students are involved in Strategic Planning. These are just a few of the many duties on which officers spend thousands of hours a year.
Briefly, let me address a few concerns I have heard. Officers put in at least ten hours a week of work; I cannot recall a week where I worked fewer hours as either Vice-President or President, and there is no way the Treasurer could ever do a week’s worth of work in fewer than ten hours. It would cost less than $8,500 to pay each officer ten hours a week, which is 1.6% of the CSA’s total budget. Should a student wish to work another job, instead of getting paid to be an officer (and some students do) they could of course turn down the compensation. Lastly, this is something many other schools do; in some cases, officers are paid stipends, even given preferential housing. We are almost an outlier because we do not pay our officers.
I would love to hear from people opposed to this, and would also be interested in hearing from more people who would like to be an officer but cannot. This is something that should be put in place this term, so that we can draw from a larger pool of qualified people, and to ensure that we leave no one out of our Student Association.