From the Ombudsman
As you may have noticed, this past Friday the stands were devoid of The Tartan?s April Fools satire edition, the ?Natrat,? for one of the few times in approximately 60 years. Soliciting opinions from various members of the campus community offered interesting perspectives as to why there was no issue last week. The speculation ranged from stating that the Tartan was simply too scared to print this year, to assertions that the staffers were forbidden from writing the controversial edition.
Historically, the satire edition was not always printed on April 1, but could have been printed at any point throughout the year. It was not always under the name ?Natrat? either: at various points in the ?60s and ?70s its association with The Tartan was amplified by printing the edition under an entirely different name.
I must relieve the suspense as to the real reason the Natrat did not appear, and with bittersweet regret, I must inform the public that the reason is not nearly as dramatic as some may think. In fact, according to The Tartan?s executive officer, Bradford Yankiver, it was a combination of a lack of funding ? reflective of a move to be more fiscally responsible and not wanting to look for additional money ? and a lack of time and resources needed to print a proper edition that led to empty stands on April 1.
After requesting additional feedback from the staff and leaders at The Tartan on this issue, I found there was a specific emphasis on this latter point from the Editor-in-Chief, J.T. Trollman. ?[The ?Natrat?] could have a place at this newspaper again. However, that absolutely hinges on its being done well,? he says. ?There?s no way that we can treat a satire issue with a lack of professionalism, as was done last year.
?I wasn?t convinced that that could be done this year,? Trollman continues. ?I also did not want to potentially reopen the wound that the ?Natrat? created from last year too soon; a lot of those feelings are still present on campus, especially after recent events such as Shabazz brought them back to light.? As to the future of the publication, he says, ?[The Tartan] doesn?t need to fall back upon such stereotypes and bigotry in order to be funny.... I know that we?re capable of publishing something that we could be proud of; but we need to put a substantial amount of effort into doing so.?
Alexander Meseguer, Editor-in-Chief last spring during the incident and current layout manager of the paper, shared his feelings on the matter: ?I have been pleasantly surprised by the progress [The Tartan has] made in the last year. The fact that The Tartan is participating in the SPIRIT fashion show is a testament to how far we?ve come in our relationship with the campus community.? He continues, ?It saddens me that there won?t be a joke issue of The Tartan this year. To a large extent, the newspaper has redeemed itself as an indispensable information source for the student body and has earned the right to publish one.... If the standard of humor is set high, I feel no reason not to publish a joke issue in the future.?
Whether the paper has earned the right to leave the satire penalty box is a decision that The Tartan and the community must make. I, simply as a member of this community, was anticipating the ?return? of a satire edition this year, as I am a frequent customer of that form of humor. Furthermore, from an ombudsman?s perspective, I believe that if anything can be a gauge of how far the organization has come in a year it would be creating an appropriate satire edition.
Good satire is a wonderful thing if it is done properly, and ??? to quote the Editor-in-Chief ? to do so, one must be ?serious about being funny.? Perhaps the extra resources should have been put into the effort to make the ?Natrat? possible; all of the reasons behind it could have been overcome with a concerted effort. Maybe this is a reflection of the desire to not be in the penalty box, but to wait for the opportune moment to step back into the game.
So, alas, another year will pass without a followup to the controversy. However, it is important to remember that though a tradition may be a tradition, often it needs to be broken in order to rebuild something better, something... funny.