Though the CSA elections wrapped up last week, the pursuit of payment for Carleton Student Association officers is just beginning.
Last week, CSA held an open meeting to allow students to voice their opinions regarding payment for positions including the president, vice president and treasurer. Eleven people attended the meeting, half of them current CSA senators.
The CSA is proposing that officers receive remuneration for their job as part of their work-study hours. CSA believes students in these positions, who sometimes work 20-40 hours per week, struggle to have a job on campus and also maintain good academic standing. The hope is that by offering remuneration, these positions will be more accessible to the general student body.
Most of the non-CSA officers in attendance opposed the change.
“CSA elections are popularity contests, and it does not make sense to pay people for winning them,” one student at the meeting said.
Another added, “Many times, like this year, officer elections have only one person running. That is not how a job works on campus. You do not apply for a job and basically are guaranteed the position.”
The opposition seemed emotionally charged, even with CSA President Isaac Hodes trying to offer the reasoning behind the change.
Hodes stressed that the CSA “is trying to make officer positions more accessible.”
In years past, “many people have come forward and admitted they have decided not to run because they cannot afford to dedicate so much time to CSA without being paid,” he said.
As for the cost of paying for the position, Hodes said paying officers would only account for about 1.5 percent of the CSA budget, which is already used to pay other student positions on campus.
Despite Hodes’s explanations, there seemed to be little sympathy in the room.
“You guys claim to work 20-40 hours a week, but I find that hard to believe since I never hear of you guys doing anything,” one student said. “I have been at Carleton for four years, and I do not even know what your position does.”
CSA members shot back to this accusation.
“Students are not interested in hearing about what we do, but they always seem interested in telling us we do nothing,” one said.
Despite this, students in the audience still opposed paying CSA officers.
“Plenty of people do 20-40 hours a week of work,” one said. “Should we start paying them? Should we start paying Ebony directors or football players?”
While Hodes acknowledged that these positions are important and that people in them work as hard as CSA officers, Hodes said CSA’s stance is rooted in the fact that officers serve the student body, acting as conduits between the students, staff and faculty.
While the debate seemed to be going in circles, one student voiced a different a different opinion on the disinterest in CSA.
“Payment is not the reason people do not participate in CSA,” the student said. “They are disenfranchised for other reasons. Paying officers will not cure the lack of enthusiasm behind participation in CSA.”
CSA promised to do more outreach with the student body before making any decisions on officer remuneration. Moving forward from this meeting, CSA will decide if it wants to vote on a bylaw offering payment to CSA officers. The bylaw would require two-thirds of the senate to vote in favor and would not go in effect until 2013, with nobody voting on the bylaw being eligible to benefit from it.