A recent change to the bylaws of the Carleton Student Association (CSA) Senate means the organization’s eight Senators At-Large will now be elected by grade.
Starting this term, each class will have two spots on the Senate, to be filled based on votes cast by a candidate’s respective classmates. Six positions will be filled this winter by two members from each the junior, sophomore and freshman classes, and the remaining two positions will be filled next fall by incoming freshmen.
The other ten spots in the 18-member senate will remain Liaison Senator positions.
CSA members say the change will make Senators At-Large both more accountable and more approachable by giving them a specific constituency, rather than the entire student body they currently serve.
“Senators don’t really have a particular constituency they represent,” CSA President McKay Duer said. “To have a class they represent is another way to make them more responsible.”
Senator David Heifetz ‘11 proposed the change, and the Senate discussed it throughout the fall before it was finalized and passed during the last week of the term.
“Something talked about a lot in politics today is, ‘How does a representative stay in constant contact with their constituents? How do we create communication?’” Heifetz said. “This really makes it easy for senators to do that. I think when students know exactly who is representing them in CSA, they’ll be more likely to approach them and be in communication with them.”
The 18-member Senate currently has two freshmen, five sophomores, eight juniors and three seniors. Duer says that while the Senate does include members of each class, it generally has a high percentage of upperclassmen.
“It sometimes can be scary as a freshman to run, especially when the entire school is voting,” she said.
It’s hoped that voting by class will encourage students to run for office early in their time at Carleton.
The decision was not without its naysayers, as people questioned whether voting by grade would create division among students.
“People voiced concern that the school isn’t socially split up into grades,” Heifetz said. “I think that’s a legitimate point, but I would say that it is the simplest and most objective way to do it.”
“We decided the accountability that it brings on to senators sort of trumps” that point, Duer said.
With specific senators for each class, Heifetz hopes students will use the CSA as an outlet for any concerns or opinions they’d like to express.
“I hope students feel empowered to be able to speak up and bring change,” he said. “It speaks to Carleton’s largest goal of students who are engaged leaders in the world. I think it’s a really important part of that.”
A date is not yet set for this term’s Senate elections, but Duer said they will be completed by eighth week.