SOUTH DAKOTA – Copies of the University of South Dakota’s student newspaper were stolen and then returned after the paper ran an article on a fraternity’s formal that ended with police citing students for underage drinking.
On Wednesday, copies of The Volante were taken from newspaper racks at the paper’s office, the student union and other locations on campus. Thursday, Volante staff found the papers back on the racks.
Two men were caught on a security camera taking the papers Wednesday evening, but they have not yet been identified. The theft occurred after the paper ran a story on a series of underage drinking citations that occurred at a Phi Delta Theta fraternity held Oct. 26.
“Clearly it was the staff’s work on the fraternity story,” said Chuck Baldwin, journalist-in-residence at the University of South Dakota and the paper’s adviser. “There was much pressure against The Volante and the TV station not to run it.”
The paper considers theft a felony and was prepared to press charges if the papers hadn’t been returned, Baldwin said.
“I certainly never wanted to see felony charges brought up against whoever did this,” Baldwin said. “It was the wrong thing to do, but when you talk about felony charges, you’re talking about pretty serious stuff here. I think they learned their lesson, the papers are back where they belong. I won’t say I’m happy with the situation, but I think it’s a reasonable resolution to it.”
Though he said the paper no longer planned to press charges, Baldwin said he would be viewing the security footage to try and identify the individuals.
Baldwin said editors were unsure on the total count of papers that were taken, but he thought it was less than a majority of what was distributed. The paper’s normal press run is around 5,000 copies, and costs $1,500.
This is the 22nd newspaper theft reported to the Student Press Law Center in 2012.
By Jordan Bradley, SPLC staff writer. Contact Bradley by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 124.