Content published in last week?s issue of The Tartan ? a cartoon by Ryan Maloney titled ?Spring Cleaning? and an editorial by Alexander Su questioning the rationale for affirmative action ? elicited a significant volume of feedback from a variety of perspectives. In the interest of transparency and our perpetual mission of facilitating constructive discussion, I wish to discuss the cartoon and the complexity of the editorial process. As The Tartan?s Executive Officer, I am in the leadership position for the organization, but weekly editorial decisions are the responsibility of Editor-in-Chief J.T. Trollman.
Alexander Su?s editorial motivated our readers to share their perspective with the community; their letters can be read in Forum. In this way, The Tartan acted as a vehicle for dialogue ? a minor victory.
We have also received a variety of feedback about Ryan Maloney?s cartoon, both directly and through The Tartan?s ombudsman, Kristina Wiltsee. Some called it ?hilarious satire,? and others said it was ?derogatory and degrading.? It is important to recognize the full spectrum of opinions; the existence of highly polarized opinions indicates to me that the issues raised by the comic are unresolved in this community.
We received two letters to the editor regarding the cartoon, both negative. The author of the first asked that we not publish the letter. A second letter, composed by Tim Bowen, the president of Sigma Nu, can be found in Forum, page A6.
The comic underwent the normal procedure for approval ? it was viewed by at least two editors and three other members of the staff. The cartoon was identified as controversial in nature through that process; Comics Editor Greg Prichard and Editor-in-Chief J.T. Trollman decided that the comic?s satirical nature overshadowed its potential to cause harm.
Our organization aspires to publish a newspaper that offers entertainment, educates our readers, and, most importantly, creates constructive discussion within the community. To that end, our editorial staff must navigate a thin line. They must distinguish between content that challenges our readers to rethink and reassess their beliefs and content that is libelous or injurious.
The editorial staff is responsible for presenting something other than conventional wisdom. Controversial content will cause people to feel insecure, frustrated, and offended. We cannot shy away from that. When I doubt my beliefs, feel confused as to why others don?t share my views, or am upset by the opinions of others, I am forced to think in new ways. Sometimes, I revise my standpoint; sometimes, my original notions are reinforced. In either case, my understanding of the issue is enhanced.
This newspaper?s editorial policy on controversial content should parallel CMU?s policy on controversial speakers. The University?s policy states: ?If [students] are to learn to choose wisely, they must know what the choices are; and they must learn in an environment where no idea is unthinkable and where no alternative is withheld from their consideration.? The University affirms that controversial speakers will be permitted ?not because they have a right to be heard but because the students have a right to hear.?
It is my most sincere hope that all The Tartan?s content will leave the community more informed, more self-aware, and more thoughtful. The opinions and perspectives of our readers help us achieve that goal. I thank all of you who have submitted letters to the editor, and encourage others who wish to share their views to do the same.