CALIFORNIA —A student editor is working to redistribute copies of her paper containing anarticle onstudent suicides that she salvaged from a dumpster last week.
JanePojawa, editor in chief of El Vaquero,said she suspects administrators at Glendale Community College confiscated andtrashed the issue because of the suicide story. College president John Davittadmitted he had problems with the ethics of the story but denied beingresponsible for taking the papers.
The article ran in the June 9edition of the newspaper and named a Glendale Community College nursing studentwho had recently committed suicide, Pojawa said.
Not long afterdistribution, Pojawa said staffers started to notice the papers “weredisappearing from the stands at a really alarming rate…clearly theyweren’t just taken to be read, they were being confiscated.”
Pojawa estimated that nearly 2,000 of the 3,500 copies put out weretaken, costing the paper around $2,500.
Davitt, the college’spresident, said he understood the paper had a right to print the story, but saidhe had ethical concerns with the article.
“My problem [with thearticle] was that it…was put into the newspaper by the student reporter eventhough she had been told that the family [of the student who committed suicide]requested that it remain private,” Davitt said. “I asked the adviserif he would pull the article and I would pay the cost of re-doing the paper witha different article substituted for the article in question, but hedeclined.”
Davitt said he also asked Michael Moreau, thepaper’s adviser, to pull the article off the paper’sWeb site, and Moreau agreed. Pojawa said the article was pulledfrom the Web site temporarily, but it is currently backonline.
Pojawa said she found stacks of the missing papers onWednesday in a dumpster on campus.
Although Davitt said he was notresponsible for the missing papers, he said a custodian or an angry facultymember could have taken them.
Pauline Guiuan, the student who wrotethe story, could not be reached for comment, but she told theGlendale News Press she was upset with the situation.
“It’sa student publication and as much as they are protecting some people, we foundthis information through public sources,” she told the local paper.
“And we have freedom of speech. There’s nothing wrong with puttingout a story like this to students or the community as a whole.”
After the papers went missing, Pojawa said she tried to file apolice report with the Glendale city police. However, because the confiscationoccurred on campus, it was not within the city police’s jurisdiction, saidSgt. Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department.
Pojawa then filed a report with campus police.
“I’m getting the run aroundagain,” she said. “They told me that they can’t release anyinformation to me for another seven to 10 days, and that it has to be approvedand that they have to approve my reasons for wanting it.”
Arepresentative from Glendale Community College District Police Department saidthe police department could not comment on the status of theinvestigation.
Pojawa justified running the article in a letter shesent to the college’s board of trustees. In the letter she stated,“our reporter, Pauline Guiuan, found that suicide is the third leadingcause of death among college students…As you are no doubt aware, GCC has hadits share of depression, mental illness and suicide and in the last sevenmonths, two nursing students were victims of this unfortunate state ofaffairs.”
In the letter, Pojawa also discussed theconstitutional consequences of the paper’sconfiscation.
“The removal of the papers was deliberate andsystematic. Censorship is illegal and it is a crime not only against the
El Vaquero staff, who put in countlesshours on each publication, but against the students, faculty and administratorswho count on the El Vaquero to providethem with information about the campus and the community,” Pojawa wrote.“Legally and morally, the students of Glendale College have the right to afree press. It’s guaranteed by the Constitution. TheEl Vaquero staff have decided to putthe story back online, and we will continue to publish our newspaper, and wewill continue to raise our voices and our keyboards in support of our fellowstudents’ right to thetruth.”