Employees confiscates papers to hush crime stories during visits

University personnel at two colleges took matters into their own hands, by trying to silence their student newspaper’s crime coverage while parents and prospective students were making visits to campus.

During a two-day period in October, student union employees at Marquette University in Wisconsin confiscated nearly 1,000 copies of the student newspaper for carrying the banner headline, ‘Savage beating just 2 miles from MU.’ High-traffic bins that contained the Marquette Tribune were emptied hours before hundreds of parents were expected to visit the campus during Parents Weekend, said Libby Fry, managing editor.

She said a Tribune staff member witnessed a student union employee removing the newspaper from bins that had been refilled. The employee claimed student union managers had ordered the copies removed because the murder headline could upset visiting parents, Fry said. Earlier, administrators and school employees voiced complaints to the newspaper about the murder coverage, she said.

Fry said the newspaper has been taken in the past while groups were visiting campus. Administrators denied any connection to the actions of the student union employee and condemned the confiscation.

No charges were filed against the school employee.

An administrator at Old Dominion University in Virginia confiscated more than 300 copies of the student newspaper, Mace and Crown, while prospective students were visiting the campus in November. Alice McAdory, admissions director, said the front-page headline, ‘Campus crime wave may be the work of professionals,’ was ‘misleading’ according to Barbarajane Clotpton-Blackwell, a copy editor with the paper.

McAdory removed the newspaper from two high-traffic bins in the student center during an orientation and open house session for prospective students. After the newspaper’s editor confronted her, she immediately returned the copies, Blackwell said.

McAdory now admits it was a ‘misguided attempt to convey the accurate image of Old Dominion as a safe campus during open house.’

‘I made a poor judgment in deciding to move some copies of the Mace and Crown that carried what I and others perceived to be a misleading headline,’ McAdory said in a statement.

Administrators at the university have condemned McAdory’s actions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which presides over Virginia, ruled in 1973 that administrators could not censor constitutionally protected expression by suppressing the circulation of a student newspaper.