A message from your Student Body President, Erik Michaels-Ober
The report of the Presidential Commission was released to the campus community last Tuesday. It addresses issues raised by The Tartan's publication of The Natrat last April 1.
Student Government played an important role in the creation of the Commission's report: former Student Body President, Dan Gilman, served as co-chair of the Commission with Director of Student Development John Hannon. Additionally, the Undergraduate Student Senate and Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) passed separate resolutions denouncing the offensive content in The Natrat and expressing their anger and frustration at the damage done to the student body.
The Senate resolution also acknowledged the positive contributions The Tartan has made to the campus community as an organization and news source. It encouraged The Tartan to take steps to produce a more empathic and professional newspaper. The Tartan has moved in this direction with the creation of two new positions: Executive Officer and Ombudsman, filled by Mark Egerman and Kristina Wiltsee, respectively. I have worked closely with both of these students and trust that their leadership will help set the organization on the right course.
The GSA resolution also affirmed the First Amendment rights of the students involved in creating The Natrat and advised the administration against excessive disciplinary action against them, a recommendation supported by the majority of Commission members.
I would encourage you to read the Commission's report in its entirety. It offers recommendations not only for The Tartan, but also for the broader Carnegie Mellon community. Student Government is committed to providing leadership to define and implement steps to meet these recommendations.
One issue raised in the report is that students lack opportunities and encouragement to engage in interpersonal relationships across cultural lines. To this end, Student Body Vice President Julie Beckenstein is reconvening the Student Body Multicultural Committee (SBMC), started last year by former Vice President Gilbert Dussek. This committee seeks to bring together the leaders of cultural groups on campus to inspire social events that unite and build understanding between the diverse members of our campus community. Julie and I will work with the legislative branches of Student Government to make the SBMC a permanent institution, by writing it into the Student Body Constitution.
The report also recommends that The Tartan must regain its financial sustainability. Student Body Vice President for Finance Steven Kling is working with The Tartan to reduce expenses, increase advertising revenue, improve recordkeeping, and prevent overspending. If these practices are followed, the organization’s debt can be eliminated in five to ten years.
I look forward to leading Student Government's efforts to support The Tartan as it seeks to reflect the voice of a student body that is sensitive to others, values diversity, and upholds the standards of the community.