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EDITORIAL: The Minaret Responds to Students Trashing Sexual Assault Articles

BY TESS SHEETS, BIANCA LOPEZ and SELENE SAN FELICE

Minaret Editorial Board

Today more than $1,300 worth of newspapers were thrown out in an attempt to silence The Minaret reporting on sexual assault in Greek life at USF.

https://theminaretonline.com/2016/10/20/usf-fraternity-suspended-for-sexual-assault-investigation/

Around 1:10 p.m., three male students approached the table in Vaughn Center where Minaret staff was handing out papers, and took one.

They began walking away when one of the students scoffed at the front page story mentioning Pi Kappa Phi, the fraternity the USF student accused of sexual assault belonged to. The student then slapped the newspaper out of his friend’s hand and onto the ground.

The front page read “USF Fraternity Suspended for Sexual Assault Investigation.”

“We need to throw these all away,” one of the males said.

Had they read the article, these students might have understood that it specified an incident at USF and included commentary by UT students saying Greek Life here strives for a culture of consent.

One of the students then offered The Minaret $2 for the rest of their newspapers, and after being turned down, admitted he planned on throwing the papers away.

The Minaret staff began to notice that even newly replenished stacks had been emptied from Vaughn stands. Staff members checked other stands on campus and discovered that two more had been emptied—including one in Morsani Hall and one on the second floor of Vaughn.

Campus Safety has security camera footage of two males taking the entire stack of papers from Vaughn’s second floor, and is working to identify the individuals in the footage.

“I have great confidence in my staff that they should have the subjects identified before the end of the day tomorrow or even by 8:00 a.m. if at all possible,” said Kevin Howell, Director at the Office of Campus Safety.

Earlier today, Pi Kappa Phi’s president claimed he couldn’t identify the students in the stills from the video because they were too distorted. The chapter president will be asked to identify the subjects again in the video footage, according to Ryne Burds, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator.

The Minaret considers this censorship and vandalism, and we expect UT to hold these students, and the organization they believed they were acting on behalf of, accountable. We also expect to be repaid in full for papers students were denied access to. If these students are Pi Kappa Phi members, we’d like a public apology from the fraternity, which we are willing to publish.

To the students attempting to silence us, our voices will only grow louder. As watchdogs for the UT community, we’ll continue to report on local issues whether you like them or not.

As a primarily female staff at a school with a majority female population, The Minaret perceives this action as a threat. Instead of using this as an opportunity to speak out against sexual assault and distance UT’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter from the incident, these students made a statement that symbolically endorsed an alleged rape. These students would rather trash their own campus paper—to protect someone accused of raping an unconscious minor—than stand in solidarity with the men and women on their own campus.

Stay with The Minaret for updates on this investigation.

Tess Sheets, Bianca Lopez and Selene San Felice can be reached at tess.sheets@theminaretonline.com, bianca.lopez@theminaretonline.com and selene.sanfelice@theminaretonline.com.

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  1. Theft and Defacing of Campus Newspapers is Censorship | ACADEME BLOG

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