MASSACHUSETTS — It is generally agreed that the mosteffective way of stopping thefts of college newspapers is to investigatethe crimes and seek to punish the perpetrators. For one TuftsUniversity publication, however, such investigation has only broughton more theft.
The Primary Source, a conservative biweekly magazinewith opinionated (and often sarcastic) essays about national andcampus-wide issues, estimates that 200 copies of its Jan. 31 issuewere stolen between Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. The issue had includedan editorial accusing the Pan-African Alliance, a Tufts studentorganization, of being behind at least one of three thefts latelast year.
The editorial, written by Primary Source editor SamDangremond, based its allegations on an e-mail message in whichPan-African Alliance President Carl Jackson allegedly wrote thatthe organization had "written counter articles and engagedin magazine dumpings" in response to a Primary Sourcearticle that criticized affirmative action. Jackson is studyingabroad and was unavailable for comment; the current president,Abdul Farah, denied the accusations to The Tufts Daily.Campus police are investigating the theft and, Dangremond said,have confirmed Jackson as the sender of the e-mail.
The magazine’s problems began last fall when vandals placedstickers marked "Imagine a campus free of sexism" onmore than 600 copies of the Nov. 22 edition, which had trumpetedthe magazine’s acquittal on sexual-harassment charges. (The sexual-harassmentcomplaint stemmed from an earlier Primary Source issue,which had satirized female members of a student organization inpart by calling them "well-endowed.")
In addition to the sticker defacement, nearly 1,000 copiesof the Nov. 22 issue were stolen. Two weeks earlier, 1,300 copiesof the Oct. 25 edition had been swiped.
Later in the year, 1,800 copies of the Dec. 6 issue were snatchedillegally, the magazine estimated. The total loss for the theftsis thought to be more than $2,000.
"Our magazine was stolen almost every time it was putout last semester," Dangremond said.
The most recent thefts and accusations have ignited an uproaron Tufts’ campus and in The Daily‘s op-ed pages, Dangremondsaid. Some have even accused the magazine of racism — chargesDangremond calls "ridiculous."
Tufts President Larry Bacow recently weighed in, sending ane-mail to all students in which he condemned the thefts. "Wemust be willing to engage and confront ideas, not suppress them,"Bacow wrote.
The president’s message also seemed to criticize campus publications."While I will defend the right to publish," the e-mailstated, "I believe that a line can be drawn between legitimatecriticism of an individual’s ideas and personal invective designedto hurt."
Dangremond was disappointed by the ambiguities of the letter.
"[Bacow] mentioned the theft for one sentence, whereasthe whole body for several paragraphs is discussing personal attacksin student publications," Dangremond complained. "Well,theft is illegal; personal attacks even if they’re not alwaysnice, are legal and they’re just words. If someone doesn’t likethem, they don’t have to read them. So I felt that the president’spriorities of trying to make people feel better rather than upholdingthe law were out of order."
Visit our Newspaper Theft Forum, featuring a checklist of things to do before, during and after a theft, along with our past coverage of theft incidents.Read our previous coverage.
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