FLORIDA — The culprit behind the dumping of 268 student newspapers at the University of Florida came forward Monday, confirming the newspaper’s earlier reporting that a student politician threw them out.
Jason Tiemeier, former student government president pro tempore, wrote the front-page guest editorial for Monday’s issue of The Independent Florida Alligator, the same newspaper he was seen discarding Feb. 20.
“I wrote this column because I would like to apologize for my actions three weeks ago,” Tiemeier wrote. “Disposing of newspapers is not only wrong, but it is unfair to the Student Body and the Alligator staff that works so hard to write them every day.”
Alligator Editor-in-Chief Joey Flechas said Tiemeier came clean about his involvement in early March. The two of them decided together that an editorial would be the best resolution.
Flechas said the Alligator is not interested in pressing charges. University spokeswoman Janine Sikes said the university is not pursuing disciplinary action as a result. Flechas also said Tiemeier would not be reimbursing the paper.
Tiemeier refused to comment when contacted.
The Alligator reported that two witnesses saw Tiemeier and Katie Waldman, both members of UF’s Unite Party, discarding the newspapers on the eve of student government elections. A Unite Party anonymous source confirmed the eyewitness accounts to the newspaper.
Tiemeier previously told the Alligator he was sleeping when the incident occurred.
Unite Party spokeswoman Christina Bonarrigo defended Tiemeier and accused the Alligator of fabrication when the accusations first surfaced. Tiemeier told her he was not involved; Bonarrigo said she had no reason to mistrust him.
The Alligator ran a front-page story that day about head coach Will Muschamp’s public endorsement of fullback Jesse Schmidt’s candidacy for student government vice president. Schmidt ran with the Students Party, which opposes the Unite Party.
Tiemeier is no longer a member of the Unite Party, Bonarrigo said, but she was unsure if that was a result of the newspaper theft. Tiemeier was not running for office in this election.
In addition to writing the editorial, Flechas said Tiemeier apologized to the Alligator during a staff meeting. Flechas said the staff appreciated his honesty and willingness to come forward.
“He felt like he wanted to put it to rest,” Flechas added.