450 issues of The OU Daily stolen — writer thinks it’s attempted censorship of front page sexual harassment story

An OU Daily newsstand stands empty outside of the Fred Jones Jr. Art Center Sept. 17. Several newsstands were emptied after an article on sexual harassment allegations against the former School of Drama director was published on the front page. The OU Daily / Kathryn Stacy

OKLAHOMA — An estimated 450 issues of The OU Daily were stolen on Sept. 17 from multiple locations across the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. The stolen issue featured a front page article about sexual harassment allegations against a tenured drama professor who remains at the university but resigned in August from his position as director of the School of Drama.

Papers went missing from nine different locations across campus. 

“I was pretty angry, to be honest, and confused as to why someone would do that,” said sophomore Jana Allen, the news editor for The OU Daily. Allen wrote the front page story.

Allen considers the theft of the papers a form of censorship. “It’s not something we should stand for.” 

The missing papers were reported at 11 a.m. on Sept. 17 and The OU Daily filed a police report. 

Nick Jungman, director of student media at OU, said the investigation has ended and the police found the person who stole the papers. Jungman does not know who it was, but was told it was not a student. 

“I haven’t asked (who the person is), but I’m kind of afraid to ask,” Jungman said, “I’m somewhat angered that someone thinks its legitimate to somewhat stifle the student press.” 

He said at the paper is valued at 25 cents a copy. That makes the cost of the stolen papers around $113. 

Stealing newspapers, even if they are offered for free, is a crime. “The reason that it’s theft is someone is taking something away from the intended audience,” said Sommer Ingram Dean, staff attorney at the Student Press Law Center. “They are keeping the student body at large from consuming the news.” 

Major Bruce Chan of the OU Police Department confirmed that an investigation had concluded, but refused to discuss specifics. Jungman said he picked up the $112.50 from the police station and does not know who came up with the money.

Newspaper theft has not occurred during Jungman’s five years at OU, but he has heard of instances from the more distant past.  

The OU Daily prints two issues a week, on Monday and Thursday. There are 6,000 print copies per issue. 

The OU Daily is online first and the website is updated regularly. Allen doesn’t understand why someone would steal physical copies of the paper when the story is already online. And, stealing the papers only draws more attention to the article they intended to hide. 

“It made whoever did it look kind of silly,” Allen said. 

SPLC reporter Madison Dudley can be reached at mdudley@splc.org or at 202-974-6318. Follow her on Twitter at @MadisonDudley18

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