OKLAHOMA — The University of Tulsa is investigating an incident in which copies of The Collegian, the school’s student newspaper, were stolen and then placed back on news stands with unauthorized inserts.
The inserts included a picture taken from Facebook.com of Collegian Managing Editor Thursday Bram extending her middle finger. The fliers also included the Web site address of her online journal. Bram said she believes copies of the Collegian were taken the evening before the Nov. 14 issue was published and that the fliers were inserted in about 700 copies of the paper. The Collegian is a weekly newspaper with a circulation of 4,000.
Bram said she also received threatening messages on Facebook. Bram filed a complaint with the Office of Student Affairs and campus security and students removed the inserts. Copies of the newspaper were later redistributed to news stands.
The incident was an apparent response to an article written by Bram about an investigation into the student government’s allocation procedures. The article said that organizations with close ties to student government members might have been receiving funds for member-only events, against the school’s policies.
Bram called the incident “an ill-thought out response” to her story.
“Everything about the flyer seems less than thought out to me,” Bram said. “If a person reads an article they can’t attack on the basis of fact, they attack the character for the writer.”
David Hamby, spokesman for the university, said a group of individuals, whose names have not been released, have been identified as possibly being involved in the incident. He said those individuals are currently going through the university’s disciplinary process.
Bram said those involved are connected with a fraternity mentioned in her article. But Hamby would not confirm whether the individuals being investigated have affiliations with the fraternity.
Student Association President Layne Fisher, who was mentioned in Bram’s article and is a member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, denied that the incident was retaliation from his organization.
“I am not sure who put the fliers, whether they are part of [Student Association] or [Kappa Alpha], in the papers,” Fisher said. “But it is not something that either the Student Association or Kappa Alpha Order supported.”
Hamby said the results of the disciplinary process will be completed by the end of the semester.
“The university is taking the matter seriously,” Hamby said. “We acted promptly when notified of the event in terms of getting the unauthorized inserts out of the newspaper and with the disciplinary process.”
Bram said she is seeking specific sanctions for the individuals involved.
“I am hoping they will, as a form of community service, be asked to investigate the dangers and abuses of sites like Facebook and to educate their peers on those issues,” Bram said.