Casually reading the Nexus on Thursday of last week, I was made aware of the newspaper’s theft. If one has read my work of the past two years, one might assume that I didn’t give a damn that “the competition” had their work stolen. I really did give a damn.

I may criticize the writing and the bias I detect in the reporting of local events. I may publicly detest its editor in chief. I may crack jokes at the expense of its staff. I may do a whole host of things to undermine its continual funding by the student body. But, in the final analysis, I deeply respect the Nexus.

The Nexus staff is mostly, if not completely, comprised of students. These students, especially the editors and the layout department, slave for you. Some may do a really poor job of it, but they do slave for you. Until you’ve been neck deep in the publications business, you can’t really come to appreciate what it’s like to stare at computers sometimes until 4 or 5 on school mornings trying to match columns to pictures to justification to margins to fonts to font sizes, raiding Costco for packs of colored pens as you correct writing that could be ascribed to 10-year-olds, trying to report on the most up-to-date bits of knowledge, hassling with advertisers, returning the calls of people who really — I mean really — hate you because you have to make sure your relations with the public don’t teeter off into Hades.

This may all seem trivial to you. But these students do it all for love of the news and a newspaper. They do it because they like seeing their work materialized on a daily basis. They do it while making a grade. And all of them do it in the harshest little community to be found in modern America: the university.

It really upset me to read of the waste of so much work. Forget the fact that trashing newspapers is an assault on the idea of a free press and free speech and liberty harkening back to the darkest days of human history. Fellow students put in their time, and the student body put in their money, to see a newspaper distributed. That was all wasted.

Whoever it was insulted you and insulted me. We, you and I and all the other students, pay for the basic costs of the Nexus every quarter as a part of our student fees. This thief trashed our money. This thief trashed the reputation of this university, which basically constitutes the value of our degree.

This person should be punished and, not only that, but this university’s administration should work to make theft of publications on campus and in the local community a crime. It is a crime. It is a crime that, when perpetrated, tears away at the health of public discourse and the very core of liberty: freedom of thought.

It may have been simply coincidence, but the thief chose a day in the week prior to a holiday in which we celebrate the life of one of this country’s most honored sons. We celebrate the man who stood on the steps near Lincoln’s feet and proclaimed that there was no greater indicator of ourselves than, “the content of our character.”

An action such as this theft and this holiday must remind us all of how close we are, and have been, to fear and authoritarianism if not for eternal vigilance. Domestically, vigilance is most often maintained by an unappreciated press.

At this moment, on this campus, it is in need of our assistance.

Senior philosophy major Nicholas Romero is the editor in chief of the Gaucho Free Press.