5 students admit to trashing more than 800 copies of Elmhurst student newspaper

ILLINOIS — Five sorority members at Elmhurst College have admitted to dumping more than 800 copies of the student newspaper into trash cans and compost bins across campus and are facing disciplinary action.

The five Rho Theta members admitted they stole and trashed the papers in response to Tuesday’s front-page article about a the sorority’s national headquarters investigating a hazing allegation at the chapter.

Phi Mu’s national organization and their Elmhurst Rho Theta chapter will reimburse The Leader for the cost of the theft, estimated at more than $1,000, and will pay to reprint the issue, according to a news release from the national organization. The newspaper’s adviser, Ron Wiginton, said they are reprinting the paper on Friday and will redistribute it Saturday.

Zachary Bishop, The Leader’s editor-in-chief, said he hasn’t heard from the sorority and wants them to apologize.

“It really does seem like the sorority has kind of realized the error in what they’ve done, and they’ve gotten a lot of crap for it,” he said.

Bishop said he is not sure if the newspaper’s staff will pursue further action against Rho Theta.

Some students saw members of Rho Theta throwing stacks of papers into the trash on Oct. 7, according to The Leader’s news release. Bishop said they printed 1,500 papers and more than 800 were gone from stands outside the library, student center, technology building and academic buildings.

Desiree Chen, a spokeswoman for Elmhurst, said the chapter will face sanctions from the college, not just the five who admitted to the theft. She said educational assignments on the First Amendment, such as writing an essay or bringing in a speaker, could be assigned to chapter members in addition to paying restitution.

Hara Henshell, director of member services for Phi Mu Fraternity, visited Rho Theta Thursday to start an internal investigation into the thefts.

“Any members found to be in violation of Phi Mu policies will be held accountable and face internal disciplinary procedures,” she said in the release.

Henshell also visited Rho Theta earlier in the month to investigate the hazing allegation and found no violations of Phi Mu or Elmhurst policies.

Elizabeth Doyle, assistant director of Student Activities and Greek Life, did not respond to telephone or email requests for an interview. Rho Theta President TinaMarie Mirabelli and Assistant Director of Campus Security Caroline Krause declined to comment.

SPLC staff writer Anna Schiffbauer can be reached by email or at (703) 807-1904 ext. 127.