LOUISIANA — Frustrated by administrators’ slow response to past newspaper theft incidents, The Hullabaloo, Tulane University’s student newspaper, sent a bill to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity last month for taking 400 copies of the newspaper from news stands and using them for a party.
Editor in Chief Drew Dickson said the newspaper opted to send the fraternity an invoice rather than report the incident to campus officials and having to go through an internal judicial process. Dickson said there have been three other incidents in the past two years in which a large number of newspapers were taken from distribution points. Adviser Chantal Bailliet said the previous theft incidents were believed to be in response to controversial articles.
“Each time previously, campus authorities, for one reason or another, have dragged their feet [in response],” Dickson said.
This time, Bailliet said The Hullabaloo is treating the incident as a business transaction. Bailliet said newspapers have a value, though the paper is free, because of advertising revenue and the students’ hard work. The Hullabaloo also prints a disclaimer that says the first two copies are free but all subsequent copies cost 50 cents. The invoice was for $237.
Bialliet said she has yet to receive payment from the fraternity. Dickson said he wants Louisiana state representatives to push for a specific newspaper theft law similar to laws in California, Maryland and Colorado that make the theft of free newspapers a crime.
“It is my hope, if successful, that the law might strengthen our hand if this ever happens again,” Dickson said.