Newspaper theft at Southern Indiana may be linked to coverage of student government, Greek community

INDIANA — Atleast 400 copies of The Shieldstudent newspaper went missing Wednesday evening in an apparent newspaper theftat the University of Southern Indiana.

Shield News EditorJessie Hellmann wrote Wednesday’s major story, an investigative piece on thelarge number of fraternity and sorority members in the school’s StudentGovernment Association. The weekly paper was distributed to bins at 6 p.m.;Hellmann said at least two bins were completely empty by 11 p.m.

Newspaper staff members filed a report with campus security;a campus security representative said they are watching for suspects, but arenot actively investigating.

SGA President Jordan Whitledge, who was quoted in the story,said student government has nothing to do with the thefts.

“I do not condone stealing newspapers,” he said. “I’m veryaware that it’s illegal.”

Whitledge, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, said he plans tosend out a press release over the issue. He has already posted on his Facebookand Twitter accounts warning his friends not to participate in such acts —though he’s not sure anyone he knows was involved.

David Stetter, the Greek community faculty adviser, spoke onbehalf of Interfraternity Council President Mark Furman and Panhellenic CouncilPresident Lauren Reckelhoff.

“If (campus security) is able to find anything, they’llfollow up with appropriate actions from the university or code of conduct,”Stetter said. “At this time, there’s no reason to believe one way or the other(who is involved).”

Stetter said Furman and Reckelhoff would not be able to commentknowledgeably on the matter because the three of them were out of town togetherfor a conference.

Hellmann’s story asserted that 35 percent of SGA members arealso members of Greek organizations, though the Greek community only makes up 5percent of USI’s total enrollment. Eleven percent of the campus voted in thelast election — and the story implies that a disproportionate percentage of theGreek community participated.

Kylie White, who lost last year’s election against Gamma PhiBeta’s Hope Fussner, was quoted in Hellmann’s story.

“When you’re running against someone in Greek life, they’remore likely to get elected on the mere fact that they know so many people,”White said. “Whereas those who aren’t in Greek life have a slimmer chancebecause they usually don’t know as many people.”

Members of the Greek community began posting a flurry ofdamning messages to Facebook and Twitter Wednesday evening. Many posts accused Hellmannof biased or inaccurate reporting. Some suggested protesting The Shield, while others joked aboutsetting the paper on fire or using it as toilet paper.

None of the posts indicated anyone from the Greek community wasinvolved in the theft.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council presidents. The SPLC regrets the error.