University of Southern Mississippi Police Chief Bob Hopkins said he had no written report and that editors could not say who they spoke to on the day the newspapers were taken, but that he has since been contacted and is beginning an investigation.
Hopkins said he told student editors that while no criminal charges can be filed “because the paper was free,” the police will investigate the theft and turn any student identified over to the school’s dean of students for disciplinary action.
Hopkins said that if those responsible are not students, it will be “difficult” to charge them “being that it is a student paper and it is free.”
Newspaper theft has sadly become all the rage on campuses within recent weeks. The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) reports that last week newspaper theft struck the University of Southern Mississippi. Between 2,000 to 4,000 copies of the November 2 issue of Student Printz went missing from distribution racks and some were found in trashcans around campus. The university is giving the newspaper staff the same hard time that Johns Hopkins University administrators gave to staff members of The Carrollton Record when their papers were stolen last spring. The SPLC reports that:
Another SPLC press release reports that Utah’s Weber State University was the site of newspaper theft two weeks ago. Approximately 1,000 copies of the latest issue of The Signpost student newspaper disappeared from their racks both on and off campus on Friday, October 27. The Signpost’s editors believe that an article discussing possible sexual misconduct by a professor prompted the theft. In contrast to the University of Southern Mississippi administration, Weber administrators report that the university police department is investigating the theft.
You’ll remember that Will reported on another case of newspaper theft at Stetson University in mid-October. In that case, about 700 copies of The Reporter student newspaper were stolen. A member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority confessed to stealing the papers, reportedly because that issue contained an article detailing how the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house was infested with mold.
And then of course there was the incident at Dartmouth that Chris reported earlier that involved not theft, but mass burning of The Dartmouth student newspaper. There, students burned copies of The Dartmouth because the paper ran a cartoon involving Friedrich Nietzsche that some students found offensive.