Executive Privilege

Twenty-two months does not seem like a long period of time to hold a single job, but in the accelerated time frame of college, it feels like a life-long career. I’ve served as publisher of The Tartan since January 1, 2005. Now, as I near the end of my time as a leader of The Tartan, I realize how much more I wish I could do for this organization and this campus.

The staff of The Tartan have done the impossible in the past two and a half years. After the atrocious 2004 April Fools publication called The Natrat, which included both racist and misogynistic material, this organization nearly collapsed.

But by giving dozens of hours per week, week after week, a new crop of leaders have turned this paper around. To see our work earning national recognition for both our print and online editions is sweet, but it’s much sweeter to hear members of our own community refer to the turnaround we’ve accomplished as the “Phoenix-like rise of The Tartan.”

All successes aside, we have much to do. In the last weeks that I serve The Tartan, I hope to set a course that will carry this newspaper forward after its 100th birthday, which comes at the end of this month.

In particular, there is one issue I have not yet given adequate attention. When I step down, I must be confident that The Tartan’s staff will actively encourage the input and participation of people from all realms of our community.

Our purpose is to inform students of the affairs and opinions that are relevant to them. Our success hinges on our ability to know what is relevant to students and how to report on it. We will not be successful unless the staff of The Tartan includes or is well-connected with people from the broad array of the groups that make up our community.

Today, the staff of The Tartan, especially the editorial staff — the group of about 29 editors and managers who lead the newspaper — is not reflective of the diversity of the broader Carnegie Mellon community. This tells me that we at The Tartan can do more to make sure that all people feel like they have a place here.

Not only can any student join this organization, any student with dedication and talent can lead it. But it doesn’t matter that I know this fact. What matters is that people outside of the organization know it.

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Multicultural Presidents Council. The MPC is a group of leaders from student organizations representing various cultural groups on campus, including groups based on ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, religious, and other identities.

The meeting gave me an opportunity to express The Tartan’s commitment to being an actively inclusive student organization, and it was a chance to garner suggestions on reaching a broader cross-section of campus as we recruit and as we search for stories. The council’s feedback indicated that the way we recruit and the way we draw story ideas does not reach a broad enough spectrum of the campus community.

It is our charge and responsibility to find ways to ensure that we actively and equitably include people from our community. Maybe this means including intentional outreach in recruiting. Maybe it means keeping special ties and regular meetings with certain organizations like the MPC.

I don’t claim that I know what steps The Tartan needs to take. I don’t believe there is any simple answer. But by discussing these issues among the members of the staff, seeking feedback from members of our community, and creating a strategy for reaching out to a broader spectrum of students, The Tartan will become a stronger organization.