Ind. editors allege student senate president stole April Fool’s edition

INDIANA — The Vincennes University studentgovernment president is threatening to cut funding to the school newspaper afterstudent editors accused him of encouraging students to steal the paper’sApril Fool’s edition. Editors say the theft cost the staff 75 percent ofits 2,000 press run.Trailblazer sports editor Tim Turner said hesaw the student member of the board of trustees carrying bundles of the AprilFool’s edition and overheard Student Senate President Lathon Harneytelling other students to confiscate the newspaper. “I heard thepresident tell people to take every copy of the special edition of theTrialblazer and throw them in the trash,” Turner said. “Isaid, ‘Excuse me,’ and he said, ‘Student senate does notappreciate you using our money to print this. We are confiscating every issue ofthis edition and reviewing it.’”Harney denied Turner’sallegations, but he said the timing of the edition, released around the sametime as parents’ weekend, was unacceptable and that the articles wereinappropriate. The spoof edition of The Trailblazer included anarticle that made fun of the campus beauty pageant, “Miss VU,” byproposing a “Miss Nude VU” accompanied by blacked-out photos ofnaked women. Another article detailed a campus Christian organization’sfictitious keg party.After the issue was published, Harney said hesuggested a few copies be shown to the board of trustees, but he added that thisrecommendation has been taken out of context. “I don’t havetime to run around and throw away papers,” Harney said. “Somebodyhonestly took the paper, but there were many people offended by this paper so itcould have been anybody. Don’t just blame it on the student body presidentbecause his name’s the biggest on campus.”The student memberof the board of trustees could not be reached for comment.Student Senatemembers expressed outrage about the edition at a meeting last week, Harney said,prompting them to send a letter to president, the board of trustees and theTrailblazer staff. Harney said the paper’s editors should not haveaccused student government of confiscating the papers without firstinvestigating. “They’re targeting the wrong person, onebecause I didn’t do it and second because I have your budget in my backpocket,” Harney said. “If you want to be a little kid about thesituation, I can be a little kid about the situation, but I can be a littleprofessional kid and hit you where it hurts.”Harney said the boardwill conduct a review of the newspaper’s budget next week. He said hewould not be surprised if student government members decide to reduce thenewspaper’s funding as a result of recent actions and content.EvanWade, editor in chief of The Trailblazer, said although the studentgovernment allocates money for the paper, the funds come from the university. Hesaid student government does not have the power to cut funding for the studentnewspaper because it is produced through the journalism department as a labclass. Making changes to department curricula, he said, is not under thejurisdiction of student government. Wade said almost all of the feedbackhe has received about the April Fool’s edition has been positive. He addedthat the April Fool’s edition is a longstanding tradition atVincennes.“A lot of people look forward to it,” Wade said.“All last March, it’s all people asked about.”Wadesaid staff members last week wrote a letter to the university to announce thateditors would consider seeking legal counsel if action against the studentgovernment was not taken immediately. He said the staff will be satisfied onlyif they are reimbursed for the missing papers, receive a formal apology fromthose involved in the theft and if the student trustee and Harney are removedfrom office. Both the dean of students and campus police said they areconducting interviews and will be making decisions about the appropriate courseof action in the next few weeks.