Student newspapers stolen, returned at Ill. college

ILLINOIS — MonmouthCollege’s student newspaper, The Courier,flew off the racks last week as several people took hundreds of copies of thenewspaper.

CourierEditor-in-Chief Andrew Drea said 800 newspapers are ordered each week and about600 were in circulation. He said he thinks 300 to 500 newspapers may have beenstolen.

Drea said the thefts were reported to his staff last Friday.Most of the editorial board was away for a conference, Drea said, but the staffasked students via Facebook for any information about the thefts.

“My online editor who stayed behind from the conferenceemailed me saying people were throwing away the newspapers,” Drea said. “Byabout 11 a.m. the paper was gone. There were no Couriers left. One girl popped into the newsroom to tell us peoplewere throwing them away. ”

Jacquelyn Condon, vice president for student life and deanof students, said her office was notified of the incident and sought to findthe individuals who had taken the papers. Condon said the individuals werecontacted and the papers were returned to the distribution points within twohours of the report. Drea said he received an email at about 5 p.m. Friday fromMichelle Merritte, associate dean of students, stating the newspapers had beenreturned.

Drea said he suspects the newspapers were taken because of afollow-up article about students charged with theft. In December, five studentsstole nativity statues from Monmouth’s Public Square. Four of the five studentswere involved in a sorority on campus, according to The Courier. A witness saw the students reassembling the nativityscene on President Mauri Ditzler’s lawn and called the police. Charges againstthe students were dropped, according to TheCourier’s Feb. 17 story.

“Our position is clear — that just because someone doesn’t like what’s beingprinted in the newspaper doesn’t give them the right to interfere with thedistribution of the newspaper,” Condon said.

Condon said she could not comment on the individuals whotook the paper or whether the individuals would be disciplined.

Condon said in the more than 20 years she’s been working forthe university, she has experienced only one other newspaper theft.

“Taking papers is not the proper forum for when folksdisagree,” Condon said. “When folks disagree they need to talk about itpublicly, debate publicly or write letters to the editor.”