Sorority suspected in Stetson newspaper theft

FLORIDA — Staff members of The Reporter, Stetson University’s student newspaper, are waiting to see if administrators will take further judicial actions after members of a campus sorority allegedly stole about 700 copies of the paper.

The missing Oct. 5 issue included a story about the university temporarily relocating some members of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority after officials found their on-campus house to be in poor condition. Editor in Chief Michael Riggs said members of the sorority contacted him after the article was published complaining about its content.

Later that day, Riggs said the newspaper’s distribution team informed him that copies of the issue had disappeared from some racks around campus. A Reporter staff member also reported seeing a member of the sorority stuffing copies of the paper into her backpack and walking away, Riggs said.

“I was enraged and helpless at the same time,” Riggs said. “People should be able to respect the discourse.”

Riggs said he immediately wanted to file a report with the city police, but university officials discouraged him from doing so.

But Stetson University Dean of Students Michelle Espinosa disputed Riggs’ claim, saying there were never recommendations made to Reporter staff members on whether they should file a police report. Espinosa said she told editors the police would simply refer the incident back to the university.

“I didn’t believe the police would do a follow up after they know that [the university] wants to deal with it internally,” she said.

Espinosa said the university is investigating the theft, but would not confirm the sorority in question’s identity. She also said the sorority is not making any statements to the media.

Staff members reprinted the stolen copies, but are estimating a loss of $2,300 in advertising revenue and printing costs.

Espinosa said she anticipates that the sorority in question will pick up the cost of reprinting the paper and the lost advertising revenue. Both Riggs and Espinosa said the sorority’s chapter president has said she will make a formal apology to the newspaper staff soon.