Executive Privilege

Welcome to the Tartan?s first issue of the year. As Executive Officer of The Tartan, I would like to use this new column to address the campus. This is a chance for the leadership of The Tartan to communicate with the community at large. While The Tartan is a student organization independent of the University administration, we play a significant role in the community. It is my belief that no other organization on campus plays a similar role, and I would like to examine the importance of a student newspaper.

Every community deserves a great newspaper. Newspapers serve a unique function that will never be replaced by television, radio, the Internet, or other media. Every week, a newspaper brings together disparate and unrelated elements of our community and puts them on the same page. The Tartan is the only place where you will find the latest changes in the dining plan next to a report on cutting-edge research from one of our faculty. You are holding a compendium of the community as you read this, athletes and artists side-by-side with political debates and local news.

At first it seems that a newspaper is a mere recollection of the week?s events, a simple mirror that reflects what happened. This is an incomplete understanding of how the newspaper affects community. Quite simply, a newspaper creates community. Bringing together all of these different and diverse happenings creates what historian Benedict Anderson calls ?simultaneity.?
This simultaneity reinforces the idea that these otherwise independent acts are related to each other. This simple act is fundamental to creating a Carnegie Mellon community. At times, CMU can seem to be very isolating and alienating, a place where students aren?t exposed to much beyond their own personal lives. The Tartan needs to serve an important role in creating a feeling of togetherness, of simultaneity.

Furthermore, a newspaper can make students examine their college experience like nothing else. A well-written opinion piece or editorial can raise issues among students, faculty, and staff. The Tartan enables the community to actively engage itself in the important issues of our day. Becoming actively critical and intellectual involved with the world around us is another sacred duty of a college newspaper.

The Tartan isn?t the only place where you can get your news. As a weekly publication, we won?t always be the first source on breaking news. Furthermore, we face competition among student organizations. The staff of The Tartan welcomes this competition. Yet no other medium serves the same function of a newspaper. No website will ever challenge you or make you think in the way a newspaper does; no radio show will ever spark community debate in the way a column will. The Tartan has a vital role to play that no other group can.

I view it as a sacrosanct responsibility for The Tartan to play this role. Sadly, The Tartan failed this responsibility last year and let down the community. I joined the organization after these troubles, because I feel that Carnegie Mellon deserves a great newspaper. The Tartan needs to hold itself to a higher standard than any other organization, because no other organization can play such a critical role in the community.

This column is titled ?Executive Privilege? because I consider it a privilege to address the community. As the Executive Officer of The Tartan, I am more than just the head of the organization. I see myself and the rest of The Tartan?s leadership as being responsible to all students, faculty, and staff. From President Cohon to every first-year, from the faculty to the custodial staff: We are your newspaper. I cannot think of a more honorable or more crucial way to serve the university that has given me so much. We will continue to produce a high-quality publication every week, and we will continue to connect you, to inform you, to make you think, to create community. Thank you for this privilege.