Ohio State U. commencement issues removed before Clinton’s speech

OHIO — Federal authorities requested that maintenance staff remove more than 5,000 copies of the student newspaper at The Ohio State University hours before former President Bill Clinton delivered a commencement speech.

Ray Catalino, business manager at The Lantern, said stadium officials told him that federal authorities instructed the maintenance staff at the stadium to remove all trashcans and printed material from the area to prepare for Clinton’s arrival. Staff members removed bundles of the commencement issue from outside the stadium.

“All but 500 were taken,” Catalino said. He added that he does not know whether the papers were thrown away.

Stadium staff supervisors later apologized to the newspaper for the mistake, Catalino said.

But Lantern outgoing Editor in Chief Ryan Merrill said he thinks university officials were censoring the paper and trying to hide it by blaming anonymous federal authorities.

“I don’t buy it,” said Merrill, who graduated June 10.

Merrill said he suspects administrators objected to student columns in the issue that criticized the university. He added that he did not get a copy of the issue because he planned to pick one up at his commencement ceremony.

Catalino said that with a press run of 6,000, the issue contained about $3,000 of advertising. The general policy would be to refund all of the advertisers, but the paper is looking into giving those customers free ad space in upcoming issues instead, he said.

Incoming Editor in Chief Gerrick Lewis said the ad revenue is not the real loss.

“This was [Merrill’s] last thing, and it was destroyed,” he said.

This is not the first time newspapers at the university have gone missing, Lewis said. Many copies of a special homecoming issue disappeared a few years ago.

The summer staff plans to run at least the graduation story in its June 19 issue, Lewis said.

By Jenny Redden, SPLC staff writer

  • Visit the Student Press Law Center’s Newspaper Theft Forum