Updating last week’s report that administrators at Stetson University in Florida suspected that the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority was responsible for stealing approximately 700 copies of The Reporter, Stetson’s student newspaper, the Student Press Law Center now reports that a member of the sorority has indeed claimed responsibility for the theft. The guilty sorority member has apologized to Reporter staff, and the sorority has agreed to pay for the cost of replacing the newspapers.
The SPLC reports that the theft was apparently motivated by an article describing the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house as being plagued by mold. Since the issue was published and distributed concurrently with the traditional new member recruitment period, the sorority member wished to prevent the house from getting a reputation for being mold-infested.
Newspaper theft is a form of censorship and is never a legitimate response to printed speech. One can’t help but note that a reputation for mold should be infinitely preferable to a reputation for censorship and a willingness to resort to illegal means to achieve a desired end. After all, mold can be cleaned and forgotten, but the damage to Zeta Tau Alpha’s image on campus will likely take much longer to repair.