Final farewell for The Tartan

After a review and a vote, ASUS decided to throw in the towel on its struggling online publication

Last Thursday, ASUS formally removed The Tartan publication from its policy.

After a three years of attempts to kick-start the publication, ASUS Assembly voted unanimously to remove The Tartan from policy last Thursday.

In doing so, The Tartan has been removed from ASUS’ control, effectively erasing the publication.

ASUS conducted a full review of The Tartan after the ASUS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 24, 2015. A motion was passed during the meeting to conduct a full assessment of the publication and recommend a course of action.

During the most recent ASUS Assembly meeting, the ASUS Advisory Board reaffirmed their recommendation originally made in a Sept. 17 report, that the publication be removed from policy.

The Tartan, established in 2012, was originally created as a faculty-oriented student publication. Over the course of its three-year history, the publication has struggled to publish consistently. Since it began, The Tartan has produced only 13 articles in total — all of which were published after January 2015.

ASUS President Brandon Jamieson, ArtSci ’17, said that the thorough and methodical nature of the investigation contributed to his vote in support of removing The Tartan.

“Whether or not everyone agrees with our decision to remove The Tartan from policy, I don’t think anyone can debate us on the process by which it was decided,” Jamieson said.

He said the process was “objective, very fair and very transparent”, and that the Advisory Board relied on quantitative data to reach their conclusion.

Among this information was the financial history of The Tartan, which was released on the ASUS website as part of the Vice President’s Report. 

In it, ASUS Vice President Andrew DiCapua, ArtSci ’17, stated that the total three-year expenditures of The Tartan were “close to $2,000”.

The cost of website design, t-shirt purchases and marketing materials make up that figure, the report states.

According to the same document, The Tartan’s bank account currently holds $200, which the ASUS executive says they will address in consultation with the Business Manager and the Advisory Board.

For Jamieson, it was crucial that the assembly make the decision early in the year. He said that in previous years, the issue of The Tartan had been left unaddressed or constantly pushed to a later date.

“We made it pretty clear to the assembly that regardless of what the route is, we want a decision tonight,” he said.

According to him, “very detailed” records of The Tartan will be kept to help students start their own ASUS-specific publication in the future.

Creating a faculty-specific publication was a uniquely difficult task for the Faculty of Arts and Science, Jamieson added.

Other “niche” papers on campus exist, including the Engineering Society’s Golden Words, the Physical & Health Education and Kinesiology Student Association’s Coaches Corner and the B. Ed. Spread. But Jamieson said it’s difficult to find commonalities among the 28 departments and three schools within Arts and Science.

“Finding a common thread between those is very difficult. So the question started rising, what is [an ASUS publication]? What market does it fill?”

He said The Tartan intended to provide opportunities for around 12,000 diverse ArtSci students to contribute pieces regardless of their skill level and without what he called a “more serious tone”, which he attributed to newspapers such as The Journal.

However, he says the inclusive atmosphere contributed to the downfall of The Tartan.

“The idea that you can operate a paper with consistent readership, without strong structure in place, without a strong editorial board? You’ve now strayed away from what the original point was,” he said.

According to him, the publication couldn’t create a stronger editorial system while maintaining the same “inclusive, easy, friendly” atmosphere.

“Eventually, what we realized is that we’re not willing — well, not not willing, but not able — to allocate the kind of resources and time starting The Tartan up would require,” he said.

“This is not us waving the white flag of surrender. We’re not saying it’s not ready ever. It’s just not ready right now.”

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