TEXAS — Student tour guides at Baylor University in Texas threw away and moved some student newspapers in what a university spokesperson called a “one-time” incident.
During a prospective student day in early February, copies of The Baylor Lariat were moved in two buildings at the direction of an admissions staffer, according to a statement from Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications at Baylor, which is in Waco, Texas. One student tour guide threw away some newspapers.
The Lariat had published a front-page story in that issue titled “Fifth alleged rape reported,” detailing the fifth such allegation at Baylor in two months. Molly Atchison, editor of The Baylor Lariat said the student who tipped off the Lariat that their newspapers had been stolen asked tour guides why the papers were being removed.
“The response they got was well, you know, our tour guide told us to take them off because they had a bad headline and it reflected badly upon the university,” Atchison said.
The incident was a mistake, and campus administrators weren’t involved, Cook said.
“It’s important that our student tour guides speak freely and objectively, as well as from their own experiences as Baylor students, so they can help students find the university that is the best fit for them,” Cook said.
“We firmly believe this was an isolated, one-time incident, and we will ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Like the university, Atchison believes it was an isolated incident and they don’t fault top administrators.
“The Lariat has always gotten the university’s assurance that our work as journalists will be taken seriously,” Atchison said. “It’s just that working parts in the university don’t always understand what’s going on.”
The Student Press Law Center tracks student newspapers thefts across the country and provides resources for student media outlets. In 2018, the center learned of eight incidents of stolen student newspapers, marking a four-year high point.
For free newspapers, the SPLC recommends including a line stating “single copies free,” and including a price for multiple copies of the paper, in order to declare the monetary value of newspapers to the public and to potential prosecutors.
Last week, about 500 copies of the University of South Carolina’s The Daily Gamecock were stolen from stands around campus.
SPLC reporter Cory Dawson can be reached at email@example.com or at 202-974-6318. Follow him on Twitter at @Dawson_and_Co.
Want more stories like this? The Student Press Law Center is a legal and educational nonprofit defending the rights of student journalists. Sign up for our free occasional News Roundup.