KENTUCKY — Seven thousand student newspapers were stolen Thursday night from dormitories, local businesses and campus buildings at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky.
Editors of The Trail Blazer, the student newspaper, said they believe the paper was stolen by members of fraternities and sororities in reaction to a story in that paper about a sexual assault in an off-campus house.
"There was a phone call to our editor’s line yesterday by a student who told us we needed to retract the story or we’ll destroy the papers, but we didn’t think they’d really do it," said the paper’s adviser, Joan Atkins. The caller did not identify herself, and campus police said they have not yet identified the caller.
Out of a total press run of 7,200, Atkins estimated 7,000 newspapers were stolen.
"Every single one put out for public consumption was taken," she said.
Friday morning Trail Blazer staff reported the crime to campus police. The campus police contacted the district attorney, who was trying to determine if there was a criminal case as of Friday.
"They [campus police] didn’t take it too seriously because the newspapers are free and they didn’t consider it a theft," said Ashley Sorrell, editor in chief of the paper.
However, campus police chief Joe Cline said, "We’re going to make sure we do [this investigation] just like anything else."
In 1997, a Fayette County prosecutor filed criminal mischief charges against three University of Kentucky students for stealing approximately 11,000 copies of The Kentucky Kernel. The students pleaded guilty and served community service.
The newspaper staff said they decided to reprint the entire edition, a move which cost the staff $2,000. The papers were redistributed Friday evening.
"This is just wrong. It’s pointless, they could’ve written a letter to the editor, they could’ve done a million other things without stealing every single newspaper," Sorrell said.
The investigation is ongoing, and campus police have yet to identify a suspect, Cline said.
—by Kim Peterson, SPLC staff writer