University of Vermont newspapers disappear from stands

VERMONT — Atleast 200 copies of the University of Vermont’s student newspaper were takenfrom stands last week after the paper published a front page full of crimestories.

The Vermont CynicEditor-in-Chief Brent Summers said there’s only one lead: a person in a hoodiewho was caught on camera carrying a stack of papers away from a stand in thestudent center. The security camera footage was too grainy even to decipher theculprit’s gender, he said.

Student Media Director Chris Evans said police got involvedright away, but stopped working the case after 24 hours.

“At this point, it’s not a criminal investigation,” campuspolice Sgt. Dan Finnegan said.

Because the papers are free, Finnegan said, thedisappearance cannot be ruled criminal theft. He said the Cynic is handling the investigation, and if someone were caught,the culprit would be referred to student affairs.

Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press LawCenter, said student newspapers do have value and can be stolen, even thoughthere is typically no purchase associated with picking them up.

“The law protects the value in things you make,” Goldsteinsaid, “even if you give them away.”

Summers said the Cynichas instituted a new policy to be included on every copy of the paper, in whichthe first copy is free, but any additional copies cost 50 cents each. That way,he said, the paper will have a definite price tag on stolen or discarded stacksin the future.

The stolen issue was published April 12. The theft occurred at about 8:10 p.m. on April 13.

Evans said there were no controversial stories in the paperaside from the front-page crime coverage, which included a story on a tennisplayer who used a stun gun on other players and a story on drunken vandals whocaused $50,000 in damage.

While the University of Vermont had campus tours April 16,administrators told the Burlington FreePress that staff members were not involved.

Newspaper bins were left empty in the student center, thelibrary and many other locations. Approximately 5,000 copies are printedweekly.

By Nick Glunt, SPLC staff writer