OREGON — Freshmen guides produced by Oregon State’s newspaper were removed from a campus dining hall due to a backlash against the guide’s cover and an article inside about alcohol.
The freshman guide was inserted into The Daily Barometer’s first edition of the school year, published last Wednesday. About 70 copies of the guide were taken out of issues located in one of the campus’ largest dining centers.
The 8-page guide featured a photo illustration on the cover featuring the staff of The Daily Barometer at a party, complete with red Solo cups, beer bongs and plastic trash bins.
The centerpiece spread offered advice on school (“You don’t have to buy textbooks for every single class”), police (“Public urination is illegal and may attract police attention”), dating (“Better safe than sorry. You know what we mean.”), dorm life (“DO NOT get ‘involved’ with any of your neighbors”) and drinking (“Liquor before beer.”).
Editor Don Iler said that he received negative comments about both the paper itself and the freshman guide from both students and administrators. He wrote a column about the response to the issue.
Wednesday night, the paper’s staff received a tip notifying them that the freshman guide had been removed from the issues in the McNary Dining Center. Iler checked the other locations of the paper, but the only the guides in the dining hall had been removed.
“You think you’re being funny and a little irreverent, but some people don’t get the joke and decide to take matters into their own hands,” Iler said.
Iler said that right now they did not know for certain who removed the guides, but that there were rumors that a staff member with the resident halls had done it to keep the guides out of easy reach of incoming freshman.
Steve Clark, the school’s vice president for university relations and marketing, said that he has spoken with administrators of housing and dining, and that to their knowledge no one from either department asked to have the papers or any part of the papers removed.
“If someone did that, they did it on their own volition,” Clark said. Clark said he plans to talk to Iler about the theft.
This is the second time copies of The Daily Barometer have been stolen in the last five years. In 2008, all six of the paper’s outdoor distribution bins were ransacked after an article about a drug trafficking bust involving six students. About 7,200 copies were stolen, costing the paper an estimated $1,100.
In 2009, Oregon State staff removed distribution bins belonging to The Liberty, another on-campus publication, and told editors the paper did not have the same distribution rights as the Daily Barometer because The Liberty was not the school’s official publication.
The paper’s editorial board responded to the thefts Monday in a column, saying that while they thought the guide would generate discussion, “we did not expect theft and censorship.”
Julia Sandidge, Oregon State’s student media director, said that though some people on campus had obviously been upset, the student guide had served an important function for the campus.
“It’s opened up a dialogue about student drinking that’s important right now,” Sandidge said. “It’s a good way to start the conversation.”
Sandidge said that the cost of the guides that were removed had been minimal. Iler has not filed a police report.
“I’d like to talk to whoever did it before taking it any further,” Iler said.
This is the 17th college newspaper theft reported in 2012.
By Jordan Bradley, SPLC staff writer. Contact Bradley by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 124.