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Georgia State papers disappear after coverage of hazing allegations

March 21, 2012

GEORGIA — Close to 250 copies of a student newspaper at Georgia State University were dumped last week after the paper published a series of stories regarding alleged sorority hazing.

Chris Shattuck, The Signal news editor, said he found a large rack completely empty when he went to restock the papers in a high-traffic classroom building March 13. A maintenance worker told him a group of girls had just come through and thrown the papers into a nearby recycling bin.

The Signal Editor-in-Chief Miranda Sain said the paper did not file a police report because they were unsure if it was even a crime.

Some GSU students claimed stealing the newspapers was acceptable because part of the printing comes from their student fees. In an editorial Sain published Tuesday, she explained that throwing out that many papers “represents a form of censorship.”

“Undoubtedly, students should be able to throw away their own personal copy of the newspaper if they read something they do not agree with,” Sain wrote. “However, by throwing away 249 other newspapers, you are throwing out 249 other students’ newspapers.”

Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director, said things can certainly be stolen even though they’re free.

“The fact that there’s not a price tag on the newspaper,” LoMonte said, “does not mean you can take hundreds without consequences.”

The papers have value whether or not they cost money to acquire, he said.

GSU spokeswoman Andrea Jones said the university can’t investigate or take other action until a complaint is filed. For now, she said, the university can’t even be sure the event occurred.

The 36-page March 13 issue of The Signal featured a story about a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority complaining anonymously to the dean of students that the sorority engages in hazing rituals.

Lucille Ausborn, GSU Greek life coordinator, did not respond by press time. The Signal story said ZTA Chapter President Megan Lane declined to comment while GSU’s hazing investigation into the chapter is ongoing.

The Signal is a weekly newspaper with a circulation between 5,000 and 6,000.

No one has claimed responsibility for the discarded papers.

By Nick Glunt, SPLC staff writer

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© 2012 Student Press Law Center

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