Executive Privilege

It has not set in for me that this is the last column I’ll write as Publisher of The Tartan. Working as head of this organization has become a central part of my life in the past two years. It’s especially strange for me to look back over these columns I’ve written. I barely remember composing the early ones.

Editors at The Tartan are elected to terms that last one calendar year, so this issue marks the transition period between the current and future staffs.

When I stepped into this position after one of The Tartan’s rockiest times, I laid out my hopes for the organization.

“A newspaper provides its readers with accurate and reliable information they need to make informed decisions in their lives and to be engaged members of a community. In this way, a newspaper can be a rallying point for a community, inspiring constructive discussion and debate that leads to great change.”

I felt optimistic and forward-looking when I wrote my first column, but I also remember feeling uneasy as I wrote those words. I believed in them and felt like they were what I needed to write, but what I wrote felt stodgy or at least too abstract.

Senior staff members of The Tartan joke that the way to tell who will head up the organization is to look for the person who has a habit of peeking over the shoulders of readers around campus to see what they’re reading, how long they read, and what they do with the paper when they’re done. I’ll admit it — that was me. It still is.

Having observed the way our readers interact with the newspaper over the course of two years, I think I’ve figured out what I really meant when I wrote that first column two years ago.
I’ve heard many thoughtful student leaders agree there is a lack of community and school spirit at Carnegie Mellon. I believe that we do have spirit, even if it is a brand of our own.
What our community does lack, though, is coordination and communication among the disparate units that make up our highly decentralized university. We’re fragmented along the lines of our majors, among other mechanisms of division.

That is where The Tartan comes in. Each week, nearly 5000 students, faculty, and administrators of Carnegie Mellon read our newspaper. Each week, we try to present the news and opinions that we think can bring our community together.

I’ve dedicated myself to The Tartan in the hope that we could make Carnegie Mellon a place where more people felt at home. I believe that as more and more students across the colleges, student organizations, and residence halls on campus read the same headlines, they’ll feel more connected to each other and to Carnegie Mellon.

Two years ago, I was lucky to catch a glimpse of someone picking up our newspaper; now the number of issues taken each week is much higher. I see people reading it anywhere from campus to the Pittsburgh International Airport. And each time The Tartan covers the hot-button issues on campus, we find newspapers left open on lunch tables and clippings taped to doors.

To me, the kid who learned early to peer over our readers’ shoulders, these are the signs of a job well done.

Last week, the staff of The Tartan elected the 2007 editorial staff. I have every confidence that the incoming staff, led by Publisher Shawn Wertz and Managing Editor Liz Schwartz, will create a newspaper that serves Carnegie Mellon better than ever.

To my current and past colleagues, thank you. To the future leaders of The Tartan, good luck.

Brad L. Yankiver, publisher of The Tartan, welcomes all responsible questions and comments, which may be sent to