Kansas editors suspect newspaper theft after racks empty unusually quickly

KANSAS — Last month, newspapers disappeared from The Crusaders racks at an unheard-of rate, giving staff the suspicion that someone was stealing copies.

In just a few hours, staff had to resupply the racks four or five times, new media director Diana Chavira said. The Seward County Community College student newspaper publishes monthly.

“The last issue that The Crusader put out seemed to disappear from the racks in the blink of an eye,” staff wrote in an editorial published in its Nov. 6 issue. “Our main suspicion is that the newspapers are being taken off the racks with the intention of keeping students and faculty from reading them.”

The papers were taken from the student union area of the Liberal, Kansas, campus last month. The issue was published Oct. 10, and by Oct. 11, staff noticed papers were disappearing. Chavira said she wasn’t sure how many were taken.

The Crusader staff don’t know who could have taken the papers or if a theft even occurred, and they didn’t report the missing newspapers to police. Chavira said there was only one story that could have possibly incited someone to steal newspapers.

“There was a drug bust on campus, and two of our reporters went and, like, covered it when it was happening,” Chavira said. “Apparently a lot of people didn’t like that.”

In addition to the disappearing newspapers, Chavira said she was told by a student who works in the admissions office that the school would not be mailing the newspaper to prospective students, despite its usual practice, because of the story.

Dean of Student Services Celeste Donovan said the Admissions Office had bought the newspapers, so they had the right to send them to whoever they chose.

“They sent the newspaper to everyone on their list except for the prospective students, because they wanted to make sure that it didn’t deter any prospective students from coming to this school,” Donovan said.

Donovan said the front-page story on a meth bust had convinced Admissions not to mail all the papers. She said neither she nor anyone in Admissions knew why papers might have disappeared from the student union rack.

In the editorial, the staff said it wasn’t “pointing any fingers,” but asked that students request extra copies at the newsroom rather than take them from the racks.

This is the eighth newspaper theft reported to the Student Press Law Center so far this year. Twenty-seven thefts were reported in 2012.

By Samantha Sunne, SPLC staff writer. Contact Sunne by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 123.