The Voice

The case of the missing papers: Voice staff investigates stacks disappearing around campus

-The Voice, Staff Writer

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Stacks of Voice issues have been disappearing from certain places on campus since the second week of the Fall 2018 semester.
The editing staff of The Voice has been monitoring this recurring problem and has contacted several Bloomsburg University offices and organizations over the course of their investigation.

The student journalists first noticed the missing stacks after publishing a story detailing the lawsuit against President Hanna on the front page of the Sep. 6 issue. Historically, no Voice issue in recent memory has moved enough papers for an entire stack to be fully depleted the following day.            
However, most or all of the Voice stacks were gone from multiple academic and office buildings by Sep. 7, including McCormick Center for Human Services, Carver Hall, the Student Services Center (SSC) and Fenstemaker Alumni House.     

Several stacks of papers similarly disappeared from the SSC, Carver Hall and other buildings the following week, when the headline for the Sep. 13 issue read “Gunfire on Main Street.” The front-page story for that week involved the Sep. 9 shooting downtown outside Fog & Flame.   

The papers remained untouched until the Oct. 4 issue, the lead story of which was the sentencing of former professor Scott Lowe for possession of child pornography. The Voice staff found their stacks missing once again from the Alumni House, Carver Hall and SSC, as well as Nelson Field House on upper campus.

The Oct. 4 issue was distributed only days before Homecoming, when many BloomU alumni would be returning for the weekend events.     
Stacks of Voice issues went missing yet again after the Oct. 18 issue, which featured the headline “Hazing halts Greek Life” on its front page and detailed the shutdown of Greek Life activities due to hazing allegations. Papers were missing from Old Science Hall but were found back in their normal place in the OSH lobby the following Monday.     

One Voice editor noticed that the stacks had been going missing from locations that are common stopping points for campus tours. Other stacks of papers were flipped over, concealing the top story of the front page.    

College-bound students who visit Bloomsburg University often meet in the Admissions office, which oversees tour days for prospective students and their parents, inside the SSC. A full stack of Voice papers usually sits on the bench outside that office.

On Wednesday, student workers in the BloomU Office of Admissions admitted that papers in the SSC were being moved prior to campus tours, but only when the front-page headlines were deemed “controversial” or potentially damaging to the university’s image. A student worker said they were “not sure” whether the student workers or the university officials in Admissions were removing the stacks, and did not specify where the stacks were placed after being removed from the bench outside Admissions.    

The Admissions worker also did not confirm whether the office is responsible for tampering with the papers in any building other than the SSC.         
Learning that the Admissions office has been purposely removing Voice papers from their place in the SSC led the Voice staff to inquire about the issue with other offices.     

The Office of the Registrar, located in the SSC, had no comment regarding the problem. The Dean of Students Office says it’s “clearly very difficult to determine why they’re disappearing. There’s really no way of preventing it at this time and no way for us to monitor all these areas. The papers are available for students and guests to read, but there’s no limit on how many they can take.”         

The Voice staff had inquired about potential video surveillance footage at the start of the semester when the stacks first went missing. The BloomU Police Department suggested that The Voice take it up with the ResLife office, who advised the Voice staff to discuss it with the BUPD. The Voice chose not to further pursue the surveillance footage.    

The Marketing and Communications Office stated that “Bloomsburg University values free speech and freedom of the press, and as such would not direct any office to remove newspapers from any areas of campus.”

“I don’t see what is controversial about having BU news out there,” a student worker in the Office of Financial Aid says. “I do not think it’s a big deal. I really do not think a newspaper would sway an opinion.”

Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, says that it’s “disturbing anytime a government entity interferes with the press. A PASSHE school is an agency under Pennsylvania law, a government actor, and the First Amendment protects student papers under freedom of the press.”

“If they only single you out when they don’t like what you have to say, it’s a constitutional issue. It should be understood at a university that they can’t stop distribution because of what you’re saying. Articles that hold power to account are evidence of a good productive environment,” Melewsky explains.

Anyone with information regarding the missing papers problem should call the Voice office at (570)-389-5344.

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The case of the missing papers: Voice staff investigates stacks disappearing around campus