Three weeks ago, Carleton Student Association President Isaac Hodes ‘12 submitted a letter to the editors of The Carletonian in which he proposed providing monetary compensation for the CSA positions of president, vice-president, and treasurer.
Since then, students have been debating the need for policy changes within Carleton’s student government.
Hodes raised multiple points of reasoning for his proposal: it would encourage more students to run for these positions, similar schools (like St. Olaf) currently do it and, most importantly, it would allow students with ten-hour work-study jobs to run in elections.
In response to this proposal, many students have expressed strong and adverse oppositions. Some worry about the negative shift in the candidates’ motives for running in elections. Others have argued that leaders of equally rigorous student-run organizations, such as varsity or club sports team captains, Ebony directors and KRLX board members, are analogously unpaid.
Hodes has requested that beginning in the spring of 2013, each of the three officers receive a salary of $10 per hour with ten-hour workweeks, although he says officers certainly work more than ten hours per week.
He estimates that the total cost for each officer’s salary will be around $8,300 per academic year, which in total would make up less than 2 percent of the CSA budget.
This is not the first time that CSA has proposed remuneration for its officers. A few years ago, the senate suggested a similar project, yet failed to reach any definite conclusion.
Though Hodes says the recurring problem of uncontested elections is not his main reason for seeking remuneration, it is one example of the general lack of interest in the CSA on campus.
“The student body is not well informed of the situations,” one CSA senator said at a meeting on Jan. 30.
At the meeting, CSA addressed the possibility of adding the matter of remuneration as a referendum on which students can vote.
“We cannot put every tough issue into referendum,” one senator said. “We know and have already said that the campus does not really understand who we are and what we do. We are the ones best qualified to make this decision.”
CSA instates members in nearly all of Carleton’s boards. It funds all on-campus organizations. The Budget Committee is responsible for allocating the Student Activity Fee. Members regularly meet with trustees, faculty, administration and students to discuss issues on campus.
Senators see CSA’s lack of presence in the student body as a pressing problem. They claim a majority of students are unknowledgeable of the issues discussed and the decisions made during weekly Senate meetings.
In hopes of receiving student input, CSA has decided to arrange an open meeting some time next week for all students interested in learning more about the remuneration project.