TEXAS — When the student newspaper at the University ofTexas El Paso, the Prospector, ran a front-page story about theself-dethroned homecoming queen, who was alleged to be a former exotic dancer,it had no way of predicting a loss of more than 3,500 papers and $2,750.
April Dominguez was crowned homecoming queen Oct. 5 but resigned two dayslater.
By Oct. 9 heaps of newspapers detailing her resignation began tovanish.
Gary Edens, UTEP’s associate vice president of student affairs, saidthe homecoming queen resigned for personal reasons. He said the Prospectorspeculated to why the student resigned.
“The news was, she resigned,” said Adriana Gomez Licon, the
Prospector’s editor in chief.
Licon said she never confirmed that Dominguez once worked at agentlemen’s club and that Dominguez’s resignation was her ownchoice. However, the student paper alleged through unnamed sources thatDominguez was a former dancer at a local strip club. Dominguez said only thatshe was not currently working for the club, but did not confirm or deny havingworked there in the past.
Kathleen Flores, director of student publications, oversees theProspector. She became aware of the stolen papers when two individualstried to lift bundles of the newspaper from a kiosk outside her building.
“They said they were taking them for recycling,” said Flores.
“I made them put them back.”
Flores thought the missing papers were rare for that day’spublication. The Prospector is published on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Flores began surveying the campus because of suspicions that other papersmight be missing. At a nearby building, Flores noticed more empty kiosks.
She viewed surveillance film from cameras around kiosks where the paperswere taken and noticed seven different individuals in groups of three stealingthe papers.
Flores said the buildings missing the majority of papers were in closeproximity to the Greek organization office. And two of the people stealing thepapers had shirts with Greek letters on them.
“I called the University Police, and they came out and made areport,” she said.
However, the presence of the police did not slow the papers fromdisappearing.
While Flores was talking with an officer, two students, in Greek letters,picked up multiple copies of the newspaper, and said they needed the papers forclass.
While there is no policy regarding a fee for taking additional copies ofthe Prospector, Flores said the paper incurred a monetary loss.
“There were about 3,500 to 4,000 papers missing,” she said.”In production and student salaries, paid by student fees, the paper lostabout $2,750.”
Without a written policy on newspaper theft, campus police referred Floresto Catie McCorry-Andalis, assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students ,* to consider the situation as a “maliciousprank” not theft.
Flores believes the missing papers had something to do with the articleabout Dominguez, who is a member of a Greek organization.
“Not only are they (thieves) denying students and faculty a chance toread the paper, they are also interfering with a contract between theadvertisers and the paper,” said Gene Policinski, executive director ofthe First Amendment Center. “Unfortunately, this is sometimes viewed as aprank and treated lightly. But it is theft. Theft is a crime, and criminalprosecution is appropriate.”
Flores said an editorial, about the theft, would appear in the Oct. 15edition of the paper. While the Prospector does not have a policy onstolen newspaper, as of yet, the paper will adopt a policy soon, Flores said.
The school’s investigation is underway. No one has been charged.
CORRECTION, 10/16: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the police referred Flores to Julie Wong instead of McCorry-Andalis. The SPLC regrets the error. Return to story