Theft of Academic Freedom Issue at Yale
By: Sarah Mishkin
YaleDailyNews.com | Wednesday, December 01, 2004
The entire run of the November issue of the Yale Free Press, a conservative student publication, was stolen over the Thanksgiving break, with no apparent suspects, YFP Editor in Chief Diana Feygin '06 said.
Approximately 2,400 issues, costing $600, were discarded, Feygin said. The magazine, which had been distributed to all 11 residential colleges and Swing Space, was stolen from all 12 locations. While YFP staff members first discovered the theft Nov. 19, the October issue of the YFP also disappeared from Silliman College the day after staff distributed it. Feygin said she is confident, but not completely positive, it too was stolen.
Feygin and YFP co-Publisher Katerina Apostolides '06 said they hope to work with the Yale administration to find the alleged thieves and prevent future similar acts. Feygin said she discussed the alleged theft with Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg, who told her to contact the masters of each residential college.
Trachtenberg said any theft of a publication is a terrible crime.
"I find that it's heinous that any kind of publication is taken from the place that it was placed in the first place," Trachtenberg said.
Feygin said she appreciated Trachtenberg's support, but she wished the administration were more proactive in its investigation.
"As far as I know, it's certainly the administration's responsibility to start an investigation whenever a theft occurs of student property," Feygin said. "I have really no idea [who stole the issues], and no way of investigating, because, frankly, I have finals coming up."
Feygin and her staff said they were horrified at the theft of this month's issues, which Feygin said was particularly ironic as the issue addressed academic freedom at Yale. The issue featured a survey conducted by Yale's Students for Academic Freedom asking students whether they considered political freedom in the classroom to be an issue on campus. Feygin said the poll, which quoted anonymously what students had said in their survey replies, had angered some people.
"It's frustrating that the way of countering things that people don't like is to suppress them," said YFP contributing writer William Britt '06, who discovered the issues missing from Morse College. "We publish letters to the editor that put anyone who wants to in dialogue with the writers, so there's lots of space for people to disagree in a way that's more helpful."
Ishaan Tharoor '06, the editor-in-chief of the Hippolytic, a liberal student publication, said he found the theft deplorable both for its impact on free speech and for the disrespect it shows to the YFP's staff.
"Even if you disagree with them, you have no right to throw out all these people's work," Tharoor said.
Nationally, theft of collegiate conservative newspapers is not uncommon, said Feygin. The California Patriot, a conservative campus monthly at the University of California at Berkeley, was stolen repeatedly in 2002.
At Yale, the August 1999 issue of Light & Truth, a conservative magazine, was discarded by Ezra Stiles freshman counselors, who said at the time they threw away the magazine because it encouraged freshman to skip sexual education lectures held during orientation.
YFP's November issue will be reprinted and distributed again today with the help of funding from the Collegiate Network, an affiliate of the nationwide Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which supports conservative publications.
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