Purdue U. faculty member trashed copies of student newspaper, editor says

INDIANA — Few people want to divulge what they earn, but one employee at Purdue University may have gone a little too far.

More than 250 copies of the Purdue Exponent student newspaper were stolen Nov. 30, the day an insert in the paper listed the salaries of all non-student university employees.

The staff had decided to list the salaries as a public service, said Pat Kuhnle, publisher and general manager of the paper.

On Nov. 30, 20,000 copies of the Exponent and 1,000 extra copies of the insert were distributed. Later that day, a faculty member who works in the university’s electrical engineering building called the paper to report more than 400 newspapers in a trash container near the building’s loading dock, said Kuhnle.

Kuhnle said that on Dec. 6 the Exponent received a report that implicated a deputy building maintenance supervisor in the theft. The supervisor intentionally discarded the copies of the paper in at least one building, said a student who works in the building and issued the report. His actions may have influenced others to discard or recycle additional copies, the student added.

The student who wrote the report said the supervisor thought the salary issue was an invasion of privacy. But Kuhnle said a campus police detective told him the supervisor had admitted to throwing newspapers away because they were a “safety hazard.”

Kuhnle disputed the charge. “We have not received any other complaints from that building regarding safety in the past,” Kuhnle said.

The supervisor’s name was released to Lieutenant Fred Davis of the university police department. The theft is still under investigation, and Davis said he could not comment.

Kuhnle said about 250 copies could be salvaged and were put back into circulation.

The paper has not decided what to do regarding the theft, citing the ongoing investigation, Kuhnle said.