Student’s libel claim against Tufts U. magazine dismissed

MASSACHUSETTS — Libel charges, stolen magazines andsexual harassment claims plagued The Primary Source overthe course of the last year. But the conservative magazine atTufts University in Medford has overcome all those obstacles,and is now ready to file some complaints of its own.

After several days of hearings, university officials rejecteda libel charge brought against the magazine by a student. ThePrimary Source was acquitted of all charges of libel madeby Iris Halpern, then a senior, who claimed the magazine had libeledher through a letter to the editor.

The Source printed an anonymous letter that claimed Halpernhad sexually harassed the author of the letter at a party. TheSource independently verified the letter, editor emeritus SamDangremond said.

"That was resolved through a university internal disciplinaryhearing in April," Dangremond said of the libel claim. "Ultimately theSource, the magazine, was acquitted of all the chargesof libel. Truth was the defense of libel. So therefore the chargeswere dismissed."

Halpern had previously filed a complaint against the Sourceclaiming sexual harassment after the magazine ran a cartoon andremarks satirizing the Student Labor Activist Movement, a groupof which she was a member. The article referenced memberswith comments about "well-endowed female SLAM members"and "oh-so-tight tank tops." Halpern’s complaint wasdismissed in November 2001.

Dangremond said the magazine now plans to file campus disciplinarycharges against Carl Jackson, former president of the Pan-AfricanAlliance. The Source believes Jackson is responsible forat least one of the four thefts the magazine had between October2001 and January. The Source was unable to file a complaintin the spring because Jackson was studying abroad. He will beback on campus in the fall.

"We found out that Mr. Jackson was responsible through somee-mails that I received, that were forwarded to me by Mr. Jackson saying that they committed magazine dumpings is the way he wroteit," Dangremond said. The Tufts University Police Department,which traced the IP address, verified the e-mail was from Jackson,Dangremond said.

Lt. Charles Lonero did not return phone calls regarding theinvestigation.

"We looked at the possibility of filing criminal complaints,but the person we worked with at the Tufts University Police Departmentsuggested that an internal case would be more in our favor, primarilybecause the magazines are given out for free," Dangremondsaid.

Jackson declined comment on the possibility of a complaintfiled by the Source.

"I’m just getting in from overseas and I really don’tknow all the issues surrounding this, and it would be inappropriatefor me to talk with you," Jackson said.

Future problems could still be on the horizon for the Source,depending on how the campus reacts to the magazine’s complaintagainst Jackson.

"It was quite the year. I anticipate that our filing acomplaint against Mr. Jackson will cause quite an uproar andwill probably result in our magazine getting stolen, and all sortsof things, only because it will turn into a large race issue oncampus. And that will be unfortunate, but I do see something likethat happening," Dangremond said.

The university currently has no policy regarding newspaperor magazine theft, and while the Source is trying to thinkof ways to protect itself, Dangremond said he also has been intouch with Dean of Students Bruce Reitman to see if a policy couldbecome part of the university’s regulations.

"There is some precedent at Tufts," Dangremond said."There was one case several years ago where those who wereresponsible ended up repaying the paper, so we do have some precedentat our university."