Introducing the Ombudsman position

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Over the past several years, portions of the community have begun to feel that the main source of printed campus news was no longer representing the voice of all the students on campus. The events that occurred this past spring put enough energy into the anger and resentment that the community was feeling to encourage The Tartan to restructure itself and listen to the recommendations that the community put forth. The response from the community as a whole led to the necessity of creating a number of new positions to divide up the duties of the main editors. One of those duties was the job of re-establishing the connection to the University and to again reach out to all aspects of the community to represent all the student body?s interests, views, and opinions. Thus emerged the first ever student Ombudsman for The Tartan.

Historically, the ombudsman, a word of Scandinavian origin, was first found in Sweden in the early 19th century when the government appointed one to handle the people?s complaints about the government. Ombudsmen are currently employed by a multitude of governments, corporations, newspapers and universities. A recent example is The New York Times, which appointed an ombudsman to try to improve the integrity of the paper after the Jayson Blair scandal put into question the paper?s longstanding credibility.

At The Tartan the main role of this position is to serve as the readers? representative, who will listen to any grievances or complaints that the community has on any issues relating to what has been published or what has not been published; in other words, to act as a conduit for the community?s feelings and direct them to the appropriate places within the organization of The Tartan. This was a role that previously bundled into the Editor-in-Chief?s long list of duties. The emergence of this position and others will allow the editors to concentrate more time on the editing process, while the ombudsman will deal with the important issues that arise in people?s complaints.

When I learned about the development of the new position, I decided that this was a position that would be an interesting and rewarding challenge. Ever since my arrival to this campus three years ago I have been enthralled with all of the opportunities and resources available to the students that attend Carnegie Mellon. I have strived to be involved in many organizations that would give me a broad overview of the university community and also contribute to bettering that community.

I want to hear more students? opinions; I desire to see change, and to also gain a perspective on the community?s feelings on different issues, which is why last spring I ran a campaign for student body president. While I did not win the election, I discovered that there were many other opportunities where I could make a similar impact. The position of Ombudsman was one such opportunity.

As the Ombudsman I will not make contributions to content, nor will I have a vote on the editorial board ? this will allow me to work mainly independently of the inner workings of the paper to better represent the students without bias. However, it is up to you, the reader, to allow me to make that impact. I need you to be proactive in channeling any resentment or feelings of unfairness about what is published in The Tartan to the place where something can be done about it.

I have never before worked for The Tartan in any capacity, but I want to see a well-respected student-run newspaper at this university that accurately and fairly reports the news of this and if I can help make that happen, then I will willingly do so.