Student journalists still waiting for answers on newspaper theft

CALIFORNIA -- Student journalists at Pasadena City College are currently waiting for the release of a police report detailing the May 8 theft of nearly 5,000 copies of their newspaper, the Courier.

The afternoon of the theft, four people entered the Courier's office and dropped off garbage bags filled with torn up copies of the newspaper, Courier News Editor Dean Lee said. The bags had a note attached taking responsibility for the theft with a signature claiming to be from the campus Hispanic group MEChA, he added.

The note expressed disappointment in the paper's coverage, claiming the newspaper failed to report on an event sponsored by MEChA the week prior, Lee said.

''The end of the note said, 'we see this as a representative example of the attitude the campus Courier has toward higher education and towards MEChA. As students of PCC we cannot accept this issue of the campus Courier,''' he said.

Shortly after the bags were dropped off, staff members called the campus police and filed a report. However, the investigation is still underway, and members of MEChA claim the group as a whole was not responsible for the theft, Lee said.

Brad Young, interim director of Pasadena City College's Police and Safety Services Department, did not respond to several messages seeking comment.

The Courier staff, with the help of adviser Mikki Bolliger, predicted the theft cost the paper more than $2,000.

''It's going to be $1,200...that's what the police have estimated, but they didn't take into account the advertising that was in there and lost. [The advertising] by itself was just under $1,000,'' said Bolliger, who has been the Courier's adviser for more than 30 years.

The paper's staff is not concerned with money at this point.

''It's not really the money we're after as far as the paper. We're working more toward an academic solution...that somebody is held responsible for doing this,'' Lee said. ''We're more interested in the fact that [those responsible] are basically denying the school the newspaper. They're saying that they have the right to steal newspapers, which they don't.''

Bolliger agreed saying, ''[the students] wanted something done so that everyone on campus is aware that you can't go around destroying newspapers. They don't want the college to say, 'OK, well let's just negotiate and find out what was bothering these people when they did it.' It doesn't matter what was bothering them, destroying papers is wrong.''

Juan Gutierrez, director of public relations at Pasadena City College, declined to comment on the newspaper theft during a pending investigation, but said that if students are charged with the theft, they will be punished.

''The Pasadena City College follows the [education] code of California and complies with all federal, state and local laws. If there have been violations, those that committed the violations will be held accountable,'' Gutierrez said.

Bolliger said she hopes that a precedent set forth the last time the Courier was stolen will prevail.

''I think the last time [there was a theft] was in the 1990s, and at that time, the student was prosecuted,'' she said. ''He paid for the run of the paper and we reran the paper because all the copies had been he paid for the initial run, the rerun of the paper and the advertising.''

The Courier staff has had some contact with the group they believe took their papers, Bolliger said.

''The president of MEChA came in last week and he said that the group is not responsible for this. He said, 'we are about education...some of our members may have done this, but it is not the group,''' she said.

California, Courier, news, Pasadena City College