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Thousands of copies of FAU paper dumped

November 20, 2010

FLORIDA -- About 2,000 copies of the student newspaper at Florida Atlantic University were taken from their bins and thrown into the trash early last week.

This is the second time copies of the University Press were taken. In February, about 900 copies of the weekly paper were stolen after it ran an article about hazing in the Greek system at the university. The culprit was a fraternity pledge.

Karla Bowsher, editor in chief of the Press, said the staff will be pressing charges this time. Bowsher suspects the latest mass disposal of papers was in response to their cover story, written by Managing Editor Gideon Grudo. The story reported on the resignation of the philosophy department chair at FAU.

"It's not far fetched to think that someone wouldn't be happy with this coverage," Grudo said.

The University Press has 39 bins on campus, Bowsher said, and 31 of them were empty the morning of Nov. 10. The paper came out the day before.

"It's very unusual for one to be empty within 24 hours," she said.

Bowsher said for the past few weeks, the staff also noticed two bins next to parking garages had been emptying within 24 hours. However, when they reported it to police, declined to investigate because the paper is free.

"They refused to do anything about it," she said.

The police have since apologized and are currently looking into the current case regarding the latest issue.

"There's a difference between being free and not having value," said Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate at the Student Press Law Center.

He said just because a newspaper is distributed for free does not mean it can’t be stolen.

"And by way of example, if I give you a car, and someone steals your car, the fact that the car was free doesn't mean they don't owe you a car," Goldstein said.

Bowsher said the cost of the issue totals several thousand dollars, when you include the cost of paying the staff, the printing of the issue and the refunding of advertising. She said several advertisers heard about the issues and have asked to be refunded.

A police spokesman did not return calls seeking comment by press time.

By James Heggen, SPLC staff writer

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© 2010 Student Press Law Center

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