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2012 Winter Issue 7 (February 24, 2012)

CSA candidates match up in poorly attended debates

February 24, 2012
By Nami Sumida
Last Wednesday, the Carleton Student Association held the debates for the 2012 CSA Senate elections. A total of 15 candidates spoke at the debates, stating their platforms, answering questions and presenting their ideas for changes they hope to enact if appointed. All candidate, even those running uncontested, were invited to speak and answer questions posed by attendees and by Isaac Hodes ’12, current CSA President and host of the debates. One common objective shared by all candidates was to reduce the gap between CSA representatives and the student body. Starting with the class of ’15 contenders, like a chorus to a song, one after another, each candidate repeated this problem. “I want to get the message of what CSA is doing out into the greater body,” Aun Hussain ’14 said. “A lot of students don’t know or care about what’s going on [with CSA],” remarked Daniel Gero ’14 In tandem with addressing the problem, each offered ideas for a solution. Becky Darin Goldberg ’15, current class of ’15 cepresentative, suggested creating a CSA Facebook group to get the actions, while Worthy Cho ’15 similarly proposed an establishment of a CSA blog. Others spoke of printing more CSA-related information in the Carletonian, CLAP and other on-campus publications. All speakers noticed not only this disconnect between students and representatives, but also a prevailing view of disinterest in – or in some cases, negativity toward – CSA. “We need to build up institutional respect,” said candidate Travis Nordgaard ’13. He believes that CSA should enact things that are big, popular and not necessarily what a typical student government would enact in order to grab the attention of students. Michael McClellan ’13, the candidate for President, strongly advocated for intense publicity campaigns. “Students pay the student activity fee, and we are the ones who decide how that’s used,” he said. “We need to take a climate survey and then let students know the actual consequences.” When asked what he believed was the single biggest problem of CSA at the moment, he responded, “me sitting here right now with no one else around me.” In fact, McClellan ’13 is running uncontested for the position of CSA President. “It is unfortunate, but quickly becoming the norm that every position is not contested,” Hodes said. “The president’s position has only been contested once out of the past four years.” This echoes the most-commonly addressed topic in the debates: the lack of interest among students in CSA affairs. Another indication of this re-emerging issue is the scarce attendance at Wednesday’s debates. Although candidates threw out significant ideas and issues about Carleton, there were no students there to receive them. Over 20 students gathered in the library Athenaeum; however, a majority of those students were current senate members. Attendance shrunk with each successive debate. However, Hodes was positive about the turnout.

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