Steven McSpiritt, business manager of Quinnipiac’s student media, said he placed 100 papers in the rack nearest the newsroom between 11 a.m. and noon Wednesday, which all disappeared faster than usual. Initially thinking students were simply more interested in the paper, staffers put out 200 additional copies, but half of those vanished within minutes, he said.
“If (the rack) is empty I want to make sure it’s filled to the brim so students who are interested can pick it up,” he said. “But after the second stack went, we realized there was mischief going on.”
Staff believe the theft was prompted by a report in this week’s issue about the Alpha Chi Omega sorority being ordered to halt all operations pending an investigation into members’ inappropriate behavior. The story said Alpha Chi Omega’s national headquarters investigated Quinnipiac’s chapter for similar issues last year.
“There’s no information in there except for what (university spokesman John Morgan) told us,” McSpiritt said. “It was only a few paragraphs, but it was clearly enough to start a backlash.”
Once student editors were alerted about the thefts, they filed a report with Quinnipiac’s Department of Public Safety, which is actively investigating the incident, editor-in-chief Katherine Rojas said.
The Quinnipiac Chronicle prints between 2,000 and 2,500 copies each week, which are distributed across the university’s three campuses on Wednesdays. The first copy is free, but subsequent copies must be purchased through the school’s student media office, according to the paper’s masthead.
Student staff estimated a loss of $200 from the thefts, McSpiritt said.
“We heard from students who saw people taking stacks of newspapers away from our designated distribution spots,” Rojas said. “Also a custodian found stacks of newspapers thrown into the surrounding trash cans near our newspaper rack.”
Some of the stolen papers were also found in a trash can in the nearest women’s bathroom, McSpiritt said.
Rojas posted a brief story online Wednesday afternoon saying the paper filed the report and asking for those with knowledge of the incidents to contact the Department of Public Safety.
“Newspaper theft is a crime,” Rojas wrote. “Those who violate the single copy rule may be subject to civil and criminal prosecution and/or subject to university discipline.”
Public safety officials said they received the theft report from The Quinnipiac Chronicle Thursday morning but declined to comment on the status of their investigation.
Since Rojas’ story, no more papers have been stolen, McSpiritt said.
This is the 10th 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 at (703) 807-1904 ext. 126.