3,000 copies of University of Central Arkansas’ student newspaper stolen

ARKANSAS — An estimated 3,000 copies of the University of Central Arkansas’ student newspaper were stolen two weeks ago, said Echo Associate Editor Traci Waller.

Staffers distributed 5,500 papers at locations around campus Nov. 15, but more than half of the papers were gone when Waller arrived on campus the next day, she said.

Editor in Chief Kim Vowell said the theft could have been in response to a focus piece in the issue on a former advertising director who faces felony theft charges for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the paper. Echo staff have received complaints about the crime log from parents and students, and she said she is not ruling it out as a motive for the theft either.

Staff members reported the theft to the University of Central Arkansas Police Department, but Vowell said previous thefts have not been taken seriously by the campus police.

“I hope they investigate it, but a lot of people on campus don’t consider it a theft per se,” she said.

Campus police did not return a call seeking comment for this article.

Vowell estimated the cost of the issue – with three sections with full color on the front and back of each section – at around $1,500.

The focus piece on the embezzlement was reprinted in last week’s issue, which was distributed on Wednesday afternoon to avoid another theft, Vowell said. She said the crime log is available on the paper’s Web site.

“Whoever wants to use this form of censorship is not going to succeed,” she said. “The stories really didn’t get stopped. Yes, it was a financial loss, but the most important thing is that the UCA community still had access to these stories.”

–by Evan Mayor, SPLC staff writer