University of Tampa orders newspaper thief to pay $150, spend 20 hours working for paper

FLORIDA — A student who once wanted to silence the Universityof Tampa student newspaper, The Minaret, is now cleaning its’ computers.

After experiencing two newspaper thefts in which more than 800 copies ofThe Minaret were stolen, Charles McKenzie, the paper’s adviser,wants to spread the word that newspaper theft is a punishable crime.

One student has already learned that lesson; She is experiencing punishmentafter being found guilty of dumping hundreds of papers.

The Minaret staff filed a complaint about the May theft. UT JudicialReview handled the situation by awarding The Minaret $150 and orderingthe student to perform 20 service hours at the paper. At $1 per paper after thefirst free copy, the stolen papers amounted to more than $800.

“I noticed about 4 p.m. that there were no papers on any of the racksaround campus,” said Peter Arrabal, editor in chief of The Minaret.”All the old papers were gone, too.”

Arrabal said the week before the May theft, a special section focused onthe case of a basketball player who was charged with being involved in an on-campus rape.

“We, at first, figured it was some late-comer trying to cover up,because we exposed the guy’s name,” he said.

After resistance from campus security, video footage was reviewed and theculprit was identified.

“The student, a conservative, Christian senior was offended bysomething in the commentary section,” McKenzie said.

This was one of two thefts The Minaret dealt with in the 2007-08school year.

“The beginning of the year started with newspaper theft by aprofessor,” said McKenzie. The professor picked up leftover copiesof The Minaret, which were placed around campus before the fall semesterbegan. The May 2007 issue covered a crime that occurred on campus outside of aresidence hall. The professor admitted that he did not want new students to begreeted with a crime story, McKenzie said.

McKenzie said the staff put copies of the paper on the racks so newstudents would be encouraged to read or work for the paper.

“The professor saw them and unilaterally decided the new studentsdidn’t need to see the old issue and destroyed the papers,” said McKenzie.

As a result, the dean told the professor, that his behavior wasunacceptable. No charges were brought.