Executive Privilege

While this week?s Forum section contains several independent endorsements of political candidates, one thing that is missing is an official partisan endorsement by the paper. While it is common practice for newspapers to officially give their opinions on candidates and elections, there are several reasons one is missing from our pages today.
The first is purely legal and procedural. Though The Tartan generates most of its operating budget from advertising, it is also funded in part by Carnegie Mellon?s student activities fee. Funded organizations are not permitted to have political motives for existing, and while a single editorial could not be the paper?s raison d??tre, we decided that splitting hairs over legality was unnecessary and inappropriate.
The major reason for avoiding an official endorsement was the content The Tartan could provide its readers instead. In place of an endorsement editorial, we have printed two others we hope are more applicable to our (largely) student readership. In fact, this week?s Forum section is one of the largest The Tartan has ever printed.
In it you?ll find pieces by members of our staff on the subject of the election and on other important current issues. Additionally, you?ll see several pieces in a slightly different format written by non-members of the Tartan staff.
These are so-called ?independent submissions,? often printed in The Tartan as ?Say What?? pieces in the Forum section. The Tartan officially defines its purpose to be partly ?a forum for opinions from the University community.? We take that responsibility seriously and open our pages to students and other members of the University community in several ways.
As a former Forum Editor of The Tartan, I advocate the most obvious of these: joining our staff. We?re always looking for new members and we especially appreciate those who want to add to the paper?s analysis section. Short of that, another way is the aforementioned ?independent submission.? The Tartan?s constitution prohibits new staff members from writing opinion articles or reviews. In order to write for Forum, a writer must first contribute to four issues and attend a training session. But writers may also contribute without joining our staff.
In order to keep students from abusing the independent submission process, we limit each student to one submission per semester. We also accept pieces from non-students, who may contribute as many as they desire.
To contribute, contact our Forum Editor ( or me, The Tartan?s Editor-in-Chief (, about writing an opinion piece for us. Either of us can help guide your topic and give you tips on writing a good argument, getting it sized, and writing in official Tartan style. The Tartan reserves the right to edit or reject a piece because of size, relevancy, or appropriateness, but our editors much prefer working with writers for a product that pleases all parties.
Over the last several years, The Tartan has printed submissions by leaders of student organizations, student government officials, and a statewide political candidate. Through the work of this semester?s staff, the number of these outside contributors has been steadily growing, and I applaud their efforts; it had been one of the elusive pieces of The Tartan?s mission to ramp up our use as a public forum.
This week we hope to use all the myriad opinions of members of our staff and those who chose to submit independently to replace an endorsement. They give both sides of the issue and insightful reasoning for their beliefs.
This far outperforms the one-sided unsigned editorial that we could have printed.