Colleges discipline thieves


Several campuses crack down on students who steal papers





Many hard-working newspaper staffs across the country see their product disappear, literally, every year. Newspaper thefts continue to be a problem -- 26 thefts were reported to the Student Press Law Center in the 2001-02 school year. Now, a few colleges are beginning to do something about it.

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\n At Emporia State University in Kansas, administrators took an inventive, interactive approach to punishment for a February newspaper theft. Administrators were quick to take action when The Bulletin was stolen, shredded and dumped with a note reading, ''This is just a test! This paper is the same crap you read in The Bulletin! Do your part to recycle! Join us!''

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\n The student who shredded the papers, Jonathon Pettis, came forward days later to take the blame. Pettis was apparently upset with the paper in general. The university handled it as an act of vandalism.

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\n Emporia officials assigned Pettis the tasks of delivering the paper in order to work off the money the newspaper lost and putting together a forum on free speech.

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\n Former editor Chad Rummel said the city prosecutor was not willing to press charges, but he was pleased the university took the initiative in punishing Pettis.

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\n Diane Bailiff, vice president for student affairs, said the university wished not only to address the issue with Pettis, but with the community as a whole. She said this is the second time the university has held a public forum on an issue involving The Bulletin, and that holding a forum opens up the topic for community discussion.

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\n Forum panelists will include the dean of the law school at Kansas University, the director of the state press association, the student body president and a member of the community, as well as next year's editor of The Bulletin. The forum is scheduled for the fall semester.

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\n ''This is not just an individual issue. It really is a cultural issue,'' Bailiff said. ''When this kind of thing happens it does engage the entire campus. It's quite different than some other kinds of destructive behavior.''

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\n Rummel said it helps to have an administrator who is working with and for the newspaper.

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\n ''Dr. Bailiff is a big supporter of student press and the students involved in the student press. She often times acts as a shield for us, even [if] she doesn't fully appreciate our actions,'' he said. ''We are lucky to have an administrator on


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Fall 2002, reports