Concordia College admissions staff remove, return newspapers featuring story on students' alcohol use

MINNESOTA — An employee in Concordia College’s admissions office removed all copies of the student newspaper from the school’s campus center on Thursday, one day after the paper published a front-page story about students’ frequent alcohol use before campus events.

Jacob Amos, opinion editor and business office manager at The Concordian, said the paper prints about 1,200 copies weekly, which are distributed for free at newsstands across campus on Wednesdays. About 400 copies are distributed to the campus center, said Editor-in-Chief Regan Whitney said in an email.

“The admissions office had a big visit day with a bunch of families on campus and a bunch of faculty in the campus center,” Amos said. “The way I understand is that people in the admissions office took the papers out of the campus center so it wouldn’t make a bad impression for Concordia.”

Emma Connell, The Concordian’s news editor, wrote an editorial Friday expressing her disappointment with the admission staffer’s choice to take the papers because of the article’s subject matter. The story, titled “Alcohol prevalent before all campus festivities,” included several accounts of student intoxication at school dances, with students’ names changed to protect anonymity. It also cited Concordia’s annual Clery Act report, which stated campus security issued more than 140 disciplinary referrals for alcohol violations last year.

“By taking the paper, the admissions office determined that it was more important for their office to be able to present a rose-colored view of Concordia than to allow the students to present the truth through a body of work they spent valuable time creating,” Connell wrote.

The papers were returned Thursday evening after newspaper staff raised concerns, Whitney said.

Steve Schuetz, vice president for enrollment, told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that he apologized to The Concordian on behalf of his office and that he has had “multiple discussions” with the staff member responsible for confiscating the papers. He did not provide the staff member’s identity to The Concordian or other media.

“We want to provide an authentic portrayal of the Concordia experience to all prospective students,” Schuetz told The Forum. Scheutz could not be reached for comment because it’s a school holiday.

Whitney said that the paper is “ready to put the issue to rest” because the admissions office has since apologized. She said Connell’s editorial was a powerful way to inform the campus community about the situation and empower people to stand up for the newspaper’s press rights.

“I hope other student newspapers never forget the power of an editorial,” Whitney said.

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

By Samantha Vicent, SPLC staff writer. Contact Vicent by email or (703) 807-1904 ext. 126.