Why DTH staffers don't sign Student Body President petitions

A few people have asked me lately, so I've decided to clear up the confusion: The Daily Tar Heel includes it in its policies that all staffers — whether you're the editor-in-chief or a first-semester staffer — cannot sign student body president petitions. Even if a staffer doesn't cover student government on a regular basis, no petitions. It's been the rule since I was a first-year staffer myself.

At the beginning of every new editor-in-chief's term, that new editor is given the opportunity to edit the policies as they see fit. I added a few things about social media and clarified the wording in a few places. I didn't change the elections policy, and I stand by that decision.

We neither desire to nor intend to censor any member of the DTH’s staff - to do so would be antithetical to the paper’s mission, history and ideals. We like to think of this policy as one of common sense and self-discipline. We want staff members to be able to discuss issues and we don’t naively assume that you are inherently objective.

- The Daily Tar Heel's elections season policy

We understand that selecting a student body president is a valuable and important part of being a student at UNC, and we understand that most people don't understand why we don't let our staff sign the petitions. They might think it's because we hate student government and want to keep our staff from participating 100 percent. They might think it's because we don't care.

Not true. It's because we care so much.

We don't sign student body president petitions because we are the only news outlet that covers UNC's student government and its elections. These elections determine how much of the next year might go for UNC students. The SBP has a role in our Board of Trustees and in shaping many campus conversations. Our Student Congress representatives decide where our student fees go and which organizations receive them. 

I value the objectivity of my staff and of our editors in our coverage of all of that, even if many people in the student body think that's not at all true. 

I am proud that I can say we objectively cover the SBP elections at UNC, that none of our staffers — not a photographer or an editor or a sports reporter — are allowed to align themselves publicly with a candidate. I am proud that we value objectivity over everything else. Take that for what you will.


In case you want to read the policies for election season, the full list is here. And if you want to follow our coverage of student government, you can find a comprehensive list of everything here.


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