Stamps of red ink appearing on the front page of several hundred copies of Wednesday’s Daily Nexus were not authorized by the newspaper, which contacted university police in an effort to catch the vandals.
Nexus staff members became aware of the stamps, which read “Vote SAC” and “www.votesac.com,” shortly before noon, and immediately confiscated 300 defaced issues that remained in the rack outside of Girvetz Hall in the Arbor. The stamped URL directed viewers to a website set up by the Student Action Coalition, an on-campus political party vying for positions in the Associated Students election that is scheduled to begin next week. Wednesday night, a SAC representative denied his party had anything to do with the unauthorized stamping.
“This is something that’s ridiculous — we’re not supporting this,” said Bill Shiebler, SAC’s presidential candidate. “I don’t know how it happened, or what’s going on with that, but this is something we had nothing to do with. I’m sorry it happened.”
UCPD spokesman Mark Signa said police are treating the incident as a misdemeanor vandalism offense. He declined to release further information about the case, citing an ongoing investigation, but said possible punishment for anyone convicted ranges from a fine to one year in jail.
Six hundred and fifty copies of Wednesday’s issue of the Nexus were distributed in the rack near the Arbor between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. The 300 issues recovered in that rack were worth approximately $641, including their production cost and the value of advertisements they contained. The Nexus prints a total of 11,500 copies every school day, and each issue contains the statement, “Single copies are free, but additional copies cost $1.”
Daily Nexus Editor in Chief Daniel Haier said newspaper staffers confiscated the remaining copies bearing unauthorized stamps for fear that readers would mistake the propaganda for editorial content approved by the newspaper’s staff.
“The Nexus takes any attempt to steal or manipulate the content of our paper extremely seriously,” Haier said. “We don’t care who did it, or what group they’re from — we’re angry that the perpetrator or perpetrators would willfully interfere with our right to free speech and jeopardize the credibility of the Nexus as an independent, unbiased news source in the eyes of every UCSB student.”
Shiebler said that although SAC does have stamps bearing the same slogans as the ones used to deface the publication, he does not know how or why someone would use them to vandalize the newspaper.
“We were using those to stamp people’s hands in the Arbor,” Shiebler said.
Shiebler said he and other members of SAC called the party’s election candidates Wednesday night to find out who, if anyone, in the group was responsible for the crime. None of the SAC candidates knew of the defacement or claimed responsibility, Shiebler said.
SAC does enough campaigning on its own without trying to vandalize the publication, Shiebler said.
“It’s something we’re not supportive of and once we do find out who did do it, if we do find out who did it, we’ll definitely try to push whatever charges on those people,” Shiebler said.
Wednesday night, A.S. Executive Director Don Daves-Rougeaux could not be reached for comment regarding what, if any, sanction might be levied against a candidate for A.S. office if one was to be found responsible for the stamping.