Students admit to theft of 4,000 copies of Calif. university student newspaper

CALIFORNIA — A week after thousands of copies of Loyola Marymount University’s student newspaper disappeared, three students admitted to taking and destroying them.

All 4,000 copies of the March 2 edition of the Los Angeles Loyolan were missing from news racks by the next day, which the newspaper’s adviser Tom Nelson called “very unusual.” The front page of the missing edition featured a story about the dismissal of the former president and vice president of a sorority for their alleged involvement in a hazing incident. A photo caption that accompanied the story misidentified one of the women pictured.

On March 9 the Loyolan published an article about the alleged theft, and the next day three students “confessed to taking the newspapers and destroying them,” Nelson said. He said the students turned themselves in because they realized the seriousness of what they had done.

Nelson would not disclose who was responsible for the theft of the newspapers. Days after the theft occurred, Nelson said it was possible that the culprits may have been objecting to the “very controversial story” that the newspaper published about the Alpha Phi sorority.

Editor in Chief Jonathan Mendelson said the staff mistakenly printed the name of the former vice president of Alpha Phi under a picture of the new president.

Using the wrong name made things “exponentially worse,” since Alpha Phi members were already upset because they found out why their former leaders were removed from the sorority from the March 2 article, Mendelson said. According to the article, an internal Alpha Phi judicial board made the decision to dismiss the two former leaders.

“We are trying to address our mistake in an appropriate and professional manner. However, I feel that destroying this edition of the newspaper because of an error or controversial story is an improper and illegal response,” he said.

Nelson said the loss of this issue was particularly upsetting because a student had worked for months on a special 20-page insert about the university’s 1990 basketball team. That year, the star player died of a heart attack on the court, but the team still made it to the quarterfinals in the NCAA tournament.

“Whoever stole the papers really tarnished and destroyed the really hard work on this other quite incredible section,” Nelson said.

Nelson estimates the amount lost due to the missing papers is $2,200. He said the Loyolan will “certainly ask for remuneration in terms of printing costs.”

University spokesman James Grant said the school expects all of its students to abide by the student code of conduct, which discourages theft.

“Whenever we can we attempt to respond if we feel the code of conduct has been potentially breached,” Grant said.

According to the Loyolan, the office of public safety, which was investigating the case, referred it to the judicial affairs office, which will handle any potential sanctions.

–By Diane Krauthamer