Cornell employee removes student newspaper pages ahead of campus tour

NEW YORK — About 30 to 40 issues of The Cornell Daily Sun student newspaper were stripped of their covers by a Cornell University employee April 20 to prevent prospective students and parents from seeing them.

Daily Sun Editor-in-Chief Juan Forrer said the April 20 newspaper was the annual April Fools’ edition, dawning a satirical wrap-around cover with fake editorials and fictional stories about Cornell giving breathalyzer tests to students and receiving research money for marijuana. The cover is very clearly a spoof, Forrer said.

Nevertheless, a Cornell employee removed the covers from all of the newspapers in Day Hall before prospective students toured the campus. Forrer said a friend who gives campus tours notified him of the incident.

The April Fools’ edition was printed on April 20 because a former president died over April Fools’ weekend.

“We felt we didn’t want to do our normal joke edition coverage after that because it wouldn’t be the appropriate thing to do in that situation,” Forrer said.

The paper did not file a police report about the theft because the damage was “miniscule,” Forrer said.

Cornell spokeswoman Claudia Wheatley said the incident is regrettable.

“Cornell University recognizes that an independent press is a cornerstone freedom in the U.S. and will work to ensure that employees recognize that as well,” Wheatley wrote in an emailed statement.

Neither Wheatley nor Forrer identified the employee responsible for taking the covers.

Cornell University is a private school, but the Sun is independent and does not receive funding from the university.

Forrer said the cover theft hasn’t impacted the paper and was an isolated incident, but the editorial board wrote an editorial concerning the theft and what it means for press freedom.

“I don’t think Cornell would do something like this again with a normal issue of the paper,” Forrer said. “We just felt like something needed to be said about it and Cornell shouldn’t be able to do anything regarding content.”

By Emily Summars, SPLC staff writer

Cornell University, news, newspaper theft, The Cornell Daily Sun