Last week CSA President Isaac Hodes ’12 submitted a letter to The Carletonian entitled “On the need for remuneration for CSA officers.” In this letter, Hodes made the case that the positions of CSA President, Vice President and Treasurer should be turned into paid campus jobs. He was worried that the time commitment of a CSA post discourages students who had work study jobs, thus compromising how representative the CSA is of our student body.
Additionally, Hodes pointed out that other schools compensate their student representatives, making Carleton, in Hodes’ words, an outlier.
We don’t buy it.
Carleton students should not need financial incentive to participate in any club or extracurricular, no matter how important the group is to our campus community. While some might be concerned that the lack of payment discourages participation, offering compensation for these positions could encourage student interest for the wrong reasons. We want our CSA representatives to be genuinely committed members of the Carleton community, not just students trying to avoid dining hall work assignments.
Other groups and clubs on campus face the same challenges regarding student participation that the CSA deals with. To suggest that the CSA is “exclusionary” because it requires a large time investment would imply that all of Carleton’s clubs that require significant time commitments are exclusionary, too. Having a ten-hour-a-week work study job has not stopped our varsity and club athletes, Ebony directors, KRLX board members, debaters, a cappella groups and ACT program directors from pursuing their interests.
While the CSA does have a hand in funding all other clubs on Carleton’s campus, those very same clubs would also not exist without the unpaid commitment of their members. To suggest that the CSA contributes more to our campus just because it controls the purse strings disregards the unquantifiable value that all of these other clubs bring to our campus culture.
More practically speaking, we think that paying CSA officers would potentially compromise the quality of their work. Rather than working until a job is completed, perhaps they would be inclined to work only until their ten hours a week are logged on the Hub.
Finally, while the wages for President, Vice President and Treasurer would only make up a small percentage of the CSA’s budget, it’s still money that could be better spent on student initiatives, clubs and proposals.
We agree that the lack of student participation in the CSA is a problem. However, offering money will not solve the more fundamental matter of student disinterest.