By Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
Baylor student tour guides removed issues of the Baylor Lariat newspaper on Feb. 9 from newsstands at Penland Crossroads and the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, according to eyewitness accounts that have been confirmed by the university.
Wexford, Pa., senior Ben Christie was eating lunch with friends at Penland Crossroads on Feb. 9 when a student tour guide took their copy of the Feb. 8 issue of the Lariat with a front page story titled “Fifth alleged rape reported.”
“The girl who took the newspaper from our table, she told us her boss had told her to do it,” Christie said. “Then they said it was something they didn’t want students to see.”
Dallas senior Hunter Meroney was also eating lunch with Christie when they saw the newspapers being removed from their stands.
“A female tour guide came up and grabbed my friend’s newspaper, I imagine to hide it from guests,” Meroney said. “After that, we saw her take the rest of the newspapers off the stands at Penland [Crossroads] and throw them away.”
Jason Cook, Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications, explained in a statement that the removal of the newspapers was a miscommunication. He said the incident was an isolated one, vowing to never let it happen again.
“Campus Visits has never given blanket instructions to campus tour guides to remove papers from newsstands or to shy away from answering any question honestly and factually from prospective students and their families about our campus today and past issues,” Cook said in the statement. “They were not asked to destroy or remove papers.”
The statement explains that they want their student tour guides to express themselves freely and objectively, but also acknowledges that the staff members did remove newspapers on Feb. 9.
“We have learned there was a miscommunication at an event on Feb. 9, when an admissions staff member asked a few campus tour staff to move papers in the Penland Crossroads lobby and Foster,” Cook said. “Unfortunately, papers in the Penland lobby were thrown away while papers in Foster were moved within the newsstand or recycled.”
Feb. 9 was “Know Where You’re Going Day” and the Baylor Media and Public Relations office estimated there were over 2,000 prospective students touring campus that day.
According to the Lariat’s pickup rates, which are recorded for each issue, 15 newsstands recorded a pickup rate of “zero,” meaning no newspapers were left on the stand. Of those 15 empty newsstands, 14 are at locations where prospective students stop on a standard campus tour. There is no way of knowing how many of those papers were taken by regular Lariat readers or the visitors on campus that Saturday.
This semester, only six of those 15 newsstands had all their copies taken of any one edition of the Lariat.
Baylor is not the only school to experience the removal of newspapers with controversial headlines. In September, the University of Oklahoma’s student newspaper, the “OU Daily,” had an estimated 450 issues with a front page story regarding sexual assault allegations against a university professor stolen, according to the Student Press Law Center.
In total, the 15 Baylor newsstands with a reported pickup rate of zero accounted for 2,150 issues of the Lariat out of a circulation of 4,000.