FAU Student Newspaper Trashed -- Literally -- After Publishing Story on Disgraced Professor (UPDATED: Suspect Arrested)
Around 2,000 copies of the FAU student newspaper, the University Press, turned up in recycling bins around the Boca Raton campus last Wednesday. According to Managing Editor Gideon Grudo, 31 of 39 distribution boxes around campus were raided and their contents thrown away ("At least they recycled," he muses). The Sun-Sentinel picked up the story, and campus police are currently pursuing leads. Grudo says the paper can't speculate at this time as to who the culprit is.
The cover story on the tossed issues details the resignation of Clevis Headley, chair of the school's philosophy department. The article followed up on a story published last month about a lawsuit filed against the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, accusing the dean "of anti-Semitism, ageism and fraud." Headley's wife works as an assistant to the dean.
In May 2009, according to the article, four philosophy professors wrote a letter of no confidence against Headley, seeking his resignation. School administrators told the faculty members to keep quiet and later suggested a number of "solutions" which included the faculty members dispersing to work in other departments. Pressure on Headley from dissatisfied graduate students continued, and he announced his resignation on October 27.
"After we received word that he was resigning, more people than before were willing to talk," says Grudo, who thinks there was already awareness of the controversy on campus. "I wouldn't say that this story blindsided people."
When Grudo and other editors found out about the thefts, they borrowed a golf cart from the campus TV station and rode around campus inspecting bins and found that 31 of 39 bins had been emptied. "We notified campus police and provided the location of the trash cans and some pictures," he says. "We're waiting for the police to investigate."
Does Grudo, who wrote the cover story, feel some pride in publishing a story that seems to have made somebody very uncomfortable? "On the one hand, it feels like we hit a nerve of truth," he says. "On the other hand, a lot of people put a lot of hard work into that issue."
This isn't the first time that the University Press has been the victim of mass trashing. In February, the paper published a story about hazing in campus frat houses, and somebody dumped 900 copies in the trash. Security videos led police to a fraternity pledge, who confessed. New Times Assistant Web Editor Devin Desjarlais was editor in chief of the paper at the time.