An unknown perpetrator or perpetrators dumped thousands of copies of Wednesday’s issue of the Daily Nexus into nearby trash cans and recycling bins – mostly trash cans.
By Nexus count, at least 2,393 copies of the newspaper were thrown into various campus receptacles, possibly as early as 9 a.m. Wednesday. Racks everywhere, both on campus and in Isla Vista, were completely bare of Wednesday’s issue. Whether that was due to the theft, however, or to the increased demand placed on the remaining papers after the theft, is impossible to say.
The scarcity of Nexus issues on campus was noted during the discussion and remarks sections of the meeting of Associated Students Legislative Council. Several council members said they had been unable to obtain a newspaper from various campus kiosks.
On-campus Representative Michelle Miller, a second-year math major, said she witnessed an unidentified man dumping a stack of newspapers into a garbage bin near Carrillo Dining Commons around 9:45 a.m. She later repeated the information to the Nexus.
“I saw a guy, presumably a student, with a large stack of Nexi, and he threw them into the trash,” she said.
She described the man as medium to tall in stature, with brown hair and wearing a cap. She said that due to the large numbers of people around, she could not get a clear look at his face.
After the meeting adjourned, On-campus Rep Adam Graff, a second-year microbiology major, came by the Nexus office at approximately 9 p.m. to inform the staff that Nexus issues had been unusually hard to find all of Wednesday, and that he knew where some of the issues had ended up.
“It made me kind of suspicious because I never see [the racks] empty, and that’s unusual because they are never empty even at the end of the day,” he said.
Acting on Miller’s statement during the A.S. meeting, Graff led the Nexus to the trashed stash of newspapers in the garbage can in front of Carrillo. Subsequent investigation by Nexus staff members revealed several large piles of otherwise untouched copies in trash cans and recycling bins around campus, including receptacles near Ortega Dining Commons, the bus loop, the UCen, Campbell Hall, Davidson Library, the Arts Building, San Miguel Residence Hall, the MultiCultural Center and Girvetz Hall. The Nexus reported the incident to the UC Police Dept.
UCPD declined to treat the incident as a crime, saying that the papers were free and therefore could not be stolen. Not all Nexus issues are free, however. Below the staff box in every issue it is stated that single copies are free but that additional copies are $1 each. The $1 charge was instituted a few years ago in response to a previous theft of the newspaper to make prosecution easier.
Upon being informed of the theft, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Young said he was “very concerned.”
“The protection of a free press is paramount in a free society,” he said. “We take this very seriously. Your press is either free or it isn’t. This is both a violation of the rules against theft and the rules of the university.”
Last year, current Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates was convicted of stealing 1,000 copies of the Daily Californian, which contained an endorsement of his rival in the mayoral race. He pled guilty to a criminal infraction and was fined $250. He also agreed to propose legislation making theft of free newspapers a crime in Berkeley, and to support similar state legislation. Berkeley now has a city ordinance prohibiting the theft of free newspapers. In addition, Bates agreed to pay a $500 restitution fee to the campus for the cost of the trashed newspapers.
Nexus Editor in Chief Brendan Buhler said the paper plans to raise the matter again with the UCPD “in the hope reason prevails.”