Editors suspect college officials played role in newspaper theft

KANSAS – A front-page article in Fort Hays State University’s student newspaper about the College of Education and Technology almost losing its accreditation may not have been too popular among some readers – about 500 newspapers were missing from the building that houses the college the day the article was printed.

On Jan. 25, copies of the University Leader were delivered to Rarick Hall at approximately 10:30 a.m., and according to witnesses there was not a single copy left in the building by 11:30 a.m.

The front-page article reported that the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education sent a site visit team to Fort Hays State to inspect the education program. The program did not adhere to current standards, according to the article, and the university was subsequently put on probation pending a second visit in February to determine whether it will lose its accreditation permanently.

“It’s pretty frustrating that we’re trying to publish news on campus, and someone would resort to something illegal like this,” said Editor in Chief Will Manly. Although all of the newspapers delivered to Rarick Hall were missing, many of them were accounted for.

“I took a good number of these papers to classrooms,” said Guy “Ed” Mills, dean of the College of Education. Mills said that he took about 300 copies of the newspaper for students to use the article “as a vehicle for discussion.”

However, Manly said, “that wouldn’t account for all the papers being gone.”

On Jan. 25, the University Leader received anonymous tips that faculty members from the College of Education were at fault, but officials deny having anything to do with the theft.

“We sure didn’t throw any in the dumpster,” Mills said. “We didn’t ask students not to read it. In fact we took it to them and asked them to read it.”

The Fort Hays State University Police Department is still investigating the theft.

“We’re fairly certain that something far more serious than theft is involved,” wrote members of the University Leader‘s editorial board in a column on Jan. 28. “We believe our papers were removed because of some content that some administrators did not want students to see.”

–By Diane Krauthamer