CS40 elects new government, sees declined interest in office

| Contributing Reporter

The South 40 government is about to undergo a regime change. Approximately 700 inhabitants of the residential area voted for candidates in the 2010-2011 Congress of the South 40 (CS40) executive board elections last week. Voter turnout this year has declined compared to last year.

Sophomore Daniella Gafen, the CS40 director of public relations, explained that decreased votes can be attributed to less contested candidates.

“Eight hundred people voted in the elections last year,” she said “We had around three people running for each position. This year, with less people running and only two positions contested, people were possibly less inclined to vote.”

As a tradition, members of the CS40 executive board are compensated with free housing equivalent to the amount of a traditional double room for their work. To ensure their residence on the South 40, the five executives have the opportunity to choose their housing before Round 1 starts, but after student staff.

The CS40 executive board is responsible for planning and promoting events that take place on the South 40, managing the group’s budget and overseeing all of the internal committees.

Gafen noted that their workload is comparable to that of residential advisers.

“I spend 20 hours a week working on events. It is a large time commitment,” Gafen said. “Every week, we have assembly meetings, college council meetings, board meetings plus five office hours.”

Gafen emphasized that free housing is only to compensate the amount of work they do on a regular basis, not an incentive for them to run for office.

“The reason I ran for CS40 is because I love it,” she said. “I enjoy organizing events and contributing to the community. I think that none of us are doing it because of the benefits.”

Freshman Joe Sutherland is the CS40 speaker for next year. He chose to run for Speaker because he wanted to improve the isolation of the 40.

“I’d have to say that ‘bubbles’ inspired me to run for speaker—the bubbles of self-segregation from St. Louis and between ourselves,” Sutherland said. “My vision of a cohesive community on the South 40 and within University City/Clayton requires us to somehow overcome these barriers. I knew that, as Speaker, I would be in the best position possible to ‘pop the bubbles.’”

CS40 also receives a budget every year that is dependent on the number of residents. As a part of their housing costs, students living on the South 40 pay a fee that goes to fund the Congres. Part of the budget goes to each residential college for programming events, and the Finance Board works to fund events accordingly. CS40 also contributes to campus events such as the Blood Drive and the Freshman Reading Program.

All of the current and new board members were enthusiastic about the upcoming semester. The executives for next year have already held meetings discussing their positions with current executives. They will have their official training session in August with committee chairs, who will be elected soon.

“I really enjoyed being part of CS40, but now it’s time for someone else to take over and contribute so much to so many people’s lives,” Gafen said. “We will prepare insightful information and details of the job for new execs. I believe they will do a great job.”

Sutherland sees the position as an opportunity to serve the community.

“With the chair selection deadline coming up on April 11, I am excited to see the talent CS40 will encompass next year,” he said. “It is a great way to give something back to the 40, and quite rewarding as well.”

  • anonymous

    Compensation, I totally and completely agree. Does the money for their housing come from the activities fee that we all pay? I have difficulty enough paying for everything at this school, let alone having “compensation” for other peoples’ extracurricular involvement included in what I pay. I’m all for student government, but at the end of the day, it’s just another activity offered on campus. If, in fact, our activities fee pays for even a portion of their housing, it needs to stop.

  • compensation?!

    I think that it’s mildly absurd that CS40 execs receive free housing. I’m surprised that there isn’t a whole group of people complaining about this! They claim that the free housing is a compensation for their hard work, but that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard- do the exec boards for other huge campus organizations receive compensation for THEIR work? Hell, even SU execs don’t get any compensation, and judging between CS40 and SU, I doubt CS40 is doing any more substantial work. How can I stop my money from going to pay for the housing of these resume padders??