A Response From The Tartan Ombudsman
When the Tartan commission?s report came out on August 31, the administration was braced for a tremendous reaction from the campus, as well as from the Pittsburgh community. That Tuesday came and went without a sound from any of the previously concerned individuals. This lack of reaction drew a sigh of relief from many within the organization and the administration. This lack of reaction allowed the Tartan to continue to operate and produce a paper, but there was still the question of what would be the most effective way to use the report.
However, after time was taken to find set a routine for the paper?s production, we decided that we needed to take full advantage of the advice put forth in the document. It is rare that any university would ever put so much time and intellectual capital into examining and dissecting what is essentially a student organization. Furthermore, to hand it such a detailed document on ways to improve its procedures is truly a remarkable gift from any university to one of its organizations. With that in mind and the production of the paper in a stable period, we have set a weekly meeting to discuss the internal changes that will occur at The Tartan. The issues discussed are those that are included in Charge 2, regarding such areas as staffing, training and advising, operations, and relationships.
The Tartan is beginning to move in the right direction in terms of an answer to the report?s suggestions, but there is an issue in the Commission report that deserves further scrutiny from the community. As we passed midsemester break, the Tartan came out with its sixth issue since the Natrat of last year. It has been approximately eight months since the initial forum held on the issue, yet, we have to ask ourselves, what changes have really occurred within the community? Charge 3 is the largest section of the commission?s report, and it pertains specifically to recommendations for the broader community.
These recommendations outline issues such as the lack of education and exposure to the diversity of our campus, as well as to broader issues involving the need to maintain the values of civility and respect in interpersonal relationships on our campus. This latter point seems particularly important because of the nature of our campus.
We pride ourselves on being an institution full of task-oriented and hardworking people. But when absorbed in that work, we often find ourselves neglecting those values of mutual respect. Some observers mistake this neglect for an underlying apathy in our students. But this issue is constantly brought up: for instance, in the free speech forums held last spring. We saw a lot of discussion about how freedom of speech is a necessity, but what is more important is the need for understanding and respect for the differences that exist on a campus that is continually focusing on its diversity. What comes out of this is another point of Charge 3: the need to educate and communicate between different organizations.
The real question is why the Natrat concern, which last spring represented an issue that mobilized a part of the community to levels rarely seen on this campus, is no longer an issue. To extend that question back to the time of publication, why was it that only a certain segment of the community felt outraged enough to take action while others remained silent?
What we can do is to charge ourselves to be educated and communicate even when issues appear to be past their prime importance among the community. The Tartan would like to start by hearing your opinions, so that we can do our part not only to help improve The Tartan, but also to provide a platform to discuss the issues put forth in the commission?s report regarding the charge to the community. This forum will be held on Wednesday, November 10 at 4:30 in Rangos 3.
It is important that the Tartan creates an opportunity to hear feedback on how it can improve the service it provides for the campus and even more important that the community voice an opinion.