American University newspaper reports newspaper theft after publishing story about hazing allegations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly every copy of American University’s student newspaper were taken from the campus racks this morning shortly after they were distributed.

The weekly paper’s cover was dedicated to an exclusive report on a hazing investigation being conducted at one of the school’s fraternitiesThe Eagle Editor-in-Chief Zach Cohen said the story was based on interviews with five members of the fraternity who have filed a complaint with the university.

Cohen said about 5,000 copies were distributed between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. but that of those, all but 150 are believed to have been stolen.

Editors reported the theft to American University police shortly after they discovered the papers were missing around noon.

“They’ve been very responsive to our requests,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he’s not sure what prompted the theft, noting that in addition to the controversial hazing story, the paper also ran stories about a professor’s contract that has not been renewed as well as an interview with the current Miss D.C. The paper also published an editorial criticizing the school for failing to punish hazing.

The paper’s editors are trying to get copies of security footage around campus that might identify who is responsible for the thefts.

The fraternity in the story, Tau Kappa Epsilon, was put on probation last spring after allegations of hazing, The Eagle reported. The five students who filed the most recent complaint told the paper they did so because the hazing became “more severe” this year.

Elliot Jeffords, TKE’s vice president, said the group had no comment regarding The Eagle thefts.

“We’ve seen stuff on Facebook but we don’t know anything about it,” Jeffords said.

The Eagle comes out in print weekly. Printing and delivery costs run about $1,000, Cohen said.

This is the fourth theft reported to the Student Press Law Center in 2013. Last year, 27 thefts were reported.

Contact Gregory by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 125.