Column critical of cheerleaders leads to newspaper theft

GEORGIA — Berry College officials are investigating theuniversity’s cheerleading squad for stealing about 900 copies of the studentnewspaper on Feb. 7.

The entire cheerleading squad took responsibility for the theft and cameforward to the Student Affairs Office, Associate Vice President of StudentAffairs Julie Bumpus said.

The cheerleaders returned the papers to Student Affairs on Feb. 8 andredistributed them to campus buildings. The Campus Carrier, the studentpaper, typically distributes 1,800 to 2,000 copies of their weekly issue.

Staffers at the Carrier believe the papers were stolen because of anopinion column that ran criticizing the cheerleaders for their lack of passionduring basketball games, Editor in Chief Ashton Staniszewski said.

“As a student newspaper, we offer to be the voice of all the students,” hesaid. “And it’s unfortunate that an opinion set them off like that.”

At least two students witnessed people taking papers from racks indifferent campus buildings, the Carrier reported.

Pam McMorrow, staff adviser for the cheerleading squad, declined to commenton the incident when the Student Press Law Center called her on Friday.

The SPLC sent messages requesting comment on Tuesday to severalcheerleaders through the Facebook social networking site, but none of the womenhad responded by Wednesday afternoon.

The Student Affairs Office is currently in the middle of its investigationof the theft and is not sure when it will be completed, Bumpus said.

“When that phase is completed, we’ll decide on what, if any, (disciplinary)charges are involved,” she said.

The athletic department could also take separate disciplinary actionagainst the cheerleaders after Student Affairs rules on the incident, theCarrier reported.

Staniszewski said the theft was unfortunate and stifled student free speechon campus.

“I feel like it was a major disrespect not only to the members of the paperbut to the members of the campus community,” he said. “I’d like to see some sortof justified punishment.”