Ky. college officials apologize for newspaper confiscation that quashed sexual assault, theft coverage

KENTUCKY — Murray State University administratorsapologized to its student newspaper last week for “inappropriate action” takenby professional and student staff members who conspired in taking roughly 300copies of the April 25 edition — calling the theft “an extreme error injudgment on our part.”Student orientation leaders moved copies ofMurray State News from high-traffic areas on campus and removed othersfrom university buildings during an orientation weekend for prospectivestudents. Administrators confirmed that two professional staff members of theDivision of Student Affairs instructed the student leaders to confiscate theedition, which carried front-page stories about campus thefts and a reportedsexual assault.Paul Radke, director of school relations, said the twostaff members ordered the papers to be confiscated “so that some of our incomingfamilies didn’t get greeted with those kinds of headlines as they were gettingtheir students enrolled for their first semester here.” He said the staff “justtook it upon themselves, very spontaneously and with no kind of forethought oranything … to relocate some the copies.”Don Robertson, vice presidentof Student Affairs and one of the nine administrators to co-sign the letter ofapology that appeared the News’ Friday edition, said that theprofessional and student staff members who were involved with the theft willreceive training and a letter of reprimand. He said the university also agreedto pay the News for lost advertising revenue for the 6,700 press run andwill send copies of the newspaper to all the students who attended theorientation.”The individuals who directed this move clearly understandthe importance of the freedom of the press and how negatively such a move canimpact a campus, an individual or even a nation,” the administrators said in theletter to the editor. “We live in a country where people fight for that veryright. We are extremely sorry for this incident and can assure you it will neverhappen again.” Following the newspaper theft, Robertson, Radke and a fewother administrators sat down with News Editor in Chief Loree Stark todiscuss the situation. She said she did not file a police report for the theftbecause she wanted to work it out with the university. Following thepublished apology, Stark told The Associate Press she was “pleased withthe result.”