Within two days of being dropped in boxes around campus, thousands of issues of the June 12 edition of the Spinnaker were gone, according to a University Police Department complaint filed by Spinnaker Editor-In-Chief Jacob Harn. The issue is being closely tracked by Harn and others at Spinnaker as the organization attempts to learn how and why it happened.
Pictures from multiple cameras at The Fountains show two young men approaching a newspaper box there and taking the newspapers. UPD released those pictures to the Spinnaker, and Detective Phil Kearney says the two men seen in them are persons-of-interest in a possible crime.
At 5:48 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, time-stamped pictures show the men driving up to the roundabout outside of The Fountains and parking in the fire lane. At 5:51 p.m. they walk to the blue paper box and remove a stack of papers. At 5:55 p.m. they walk back outside, put the newspapers in the back of the SUV and drive away.
Harn estimated about 80 issues were taken from The Fountains paper box.
Besides The Fountains drop box, 2,700-2,800 papers were taken from 27 locations on campus, Harn said. An additional 100-200 were taken after that. Harn first noticed the missing issues Friday, June 14, but thought the sudden disappearance wasn’t a bad thing.
“The morning of Friday I had checked all the student union locations, and there were no papers left,” Harn said. “Just thinking it must have been a good issue, I refilled them without thinking twice about it.”
It wasn’t until Harn started refilling boxes at a bus stop and the library that he thought something might be wrong.
“The moment when I got the suspicion, I went around the corner and checked [a paper box],” Harn added. “At that point I was thinking, ‘Oh, no.’ As it started pouring down [rain] I started running just around the perimeter of campus and one [box] after the other: empty, empty, empty.”
The men seen in the pictures have not been identified. There is no evidence the same men removed the papers from the other boxes, investigators said. UPD is now looking for the Nissan Juke in question but said about 6,000 Nissans are registered with UNF, which doesn’t specify the model of Nissans registered at any point in time.
Between 20-120 papers are dropped into each paper box when a new issue comes out.
The cost of the Spinnaker is free for students to pick up but is, in fact, paid for by students through the UNF Student Government Association. Students pay an Activities Fee along with tuition based on the number of credit hours they take, which funds the SGA budget. The SGA pays the Spinnaker subscription fee out of its budget. A certain percentage of the fee is also allotted to Spinnaker Media. In addition, the Spinnaker makes a large chunk of its revenue from newspaper advertising and print fees.
Connor Spielmaker, the Station Manager of Spinnaker Television, said because the Spinnaker is paid for by students, the men taking the papers means they took them from the students themselves.
“Taking the Spinnaker paper takes away from all of us, because that’s what helps us all run [Spinnaker],” he said. ”We all support each other. Taking from the paper is taking from the entire organization. We provide the paper. We provide movies on our TV station that students in the dorms can watch. We provide music on our radio station.”
The issue is alarming for staff at Spinnaker, particularly because it’s not the first time the papers have been stolen on campus. A week after the Spinnaker won the Pacemaker award in 2010, 3,800 of the 4,000 issues dropped off were taken. John Timpe, Faculty Advisor for what was then called the Center for Student Media, estimated the loss to the Spinnaker to be $7,800 plus the cost of buying and restocking missing newspapers.
Harn said the financial loss is added to the loss of hundreds of work hours put in by dozens of staff at the Spinnaker.
“It worries me, because whether it was a prank or not this is a violation of the First Amendment,” Harn said. ”The worry stems from the fact that students who do read our paper kind of had a crime committed against them. They didn’t have access to one of our sources of news. And another worry is, if this was just a simple prank, they committed a serious crime. Whether there will or won’t be legal repercussions, the possibility exists that there will be, and if there are, it’s going to be damaging for their lives and their future.”
Spinnaker Media will be issuing a press release on the situation in the coming days.
Anyone who has information on the missing papers or on the whereabouts of the persons-of-interest can email the Spinnaker at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling UPD at 904-620-2800