Investigation finds more than 700 newspapers in Pepperdine U. dorm room, stolen for prank

CALIFORNIA — The Department of Public Safety at Pepperdine University is accusing three students of taking more than 700 copies of six issues of the student newspaper. Two of the students, the paper’s adviser said, admitted they took the papers for a prank on a friend.

Although Dawn Emrich, deputy director of public safety, declined to release the names of the students involved, Pepperdine Graphic adviser Elizabeth Smith said the staff hopes to recover the cost of the stolen papers.

Smith said the Department of Public Safety found 710 copies of six issues stuffed in duffel bags and stacked in a dorm room early October. Two of the students contacted Smith Oct. 7 and said they stole the papers to wad them up and fill a friend’s dorm room as a prank, not as a reaction to the Graphic’s content, she said.

“When you take free newspapers with the intention of just wadding them for a prank, it’s really inconsiderate of the hard work that goes into it,” Smith said. “I don’t want them to just see us as physical paper on a stand.”

On Sept. 26 the Graphic staff reported to campus security 300 copies of the Sept. 25 Graphic were missing from stands outside the library, student center and International Programs office, Smith said. At the time, the staff and adviser believed the thefts could be an attempt to censor a front-page article about an alcohol-related car accident involving a Pepperdine student.

“I would like to think that our readers are media literate enough to understand why that type of article is important for a student newspaper and a community that’s small like ours,” Smith said. “But the other part of me was really disappointed because it was so frivolous.”

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

Correction (10/28/2014, 1:15 p.m.): This article initially misstated how many students admitted to taking the newspaper copies to Pepperdine Graphic adviser Elizabeth Smith. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.