Students may have found it difficult to locate copies of the Oracle on Thursday. That’s because many papers were not located in their familiar yellow stands, but instead were found in trash receptacles around campus.
The Oracle’s lead story that day, titled “fraternity evicted,” detailed the inactivation of USF’s chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity (LXA). The chapter was closed due to violations of the alcohol and hazing policies of both the University and LXA’s international governing body.
A handful of students, unhappy with the coverage, took it upon themselves to throw away hundreds of copies of the paper.
The Oracle offers one free copy to students daily, with subsequent papers available at a cost of 50 cents apiece.
Cpl. Todd Gregory of University Police said he was unsure whether the situation warranted an official investigation, but said he would contact the State Attorney’s Office to be sure.
A similar situation developed on the campus of the University of Chapel Hill recently when the Daily Tar Heel published an article regarding hazing in the local chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity (SX). In that case, SX members ultimately admitted to the theft of the papers and a settlement was reached without litigation.
Two witnesses who wished to remain anonymous claim to have seen a person in an LXA shirt throwing away copies of the Oracle outside Cooper Hall and Burger King.
A third witness, who cited fear of physical confrontation with former LXA members as motive for remaining anonymous, claimed to have recognized former LXA brothers standing next to an empty newspaper stand yelling and talking about throwing issues away. This witness confirmed that one of the students was wearing an LXA shirt.
Of the approximately 250 issues found in trash receptacles, around 75 were found next to the Library.
“Should your investigation warrant a formal complaint, it will either be filed individually or organizationally,” Assistant Dean of Greek Life Megan Vadnais said. “If it is organizational, it may affect (LXA International Fraternity’s) ability to return to campus in the future.”
According to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, if the allegations leveled against the former LXA members prove to be true, they face possible repercussions from the office of Student Judicial Affairs. She said it is important to recognize that since the USF chapter of LXA was disbanded on Monday, any official complaints would probably result in individual charges.
“It’s not the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last,” Oracle Editor in Chief Brad Bautista said. “But that doesn’t mitigate the action. It was an improper response. We take letters to the editor, we take phone calls, or they can come down and talk to us in person if they are angry with what we reported. So while I’m sorry they are unhappy with our coverage, I don’t think they should have deprived the student body of the ability to read the story.”
Vadnais supported this concern.
“I support the free press,” she said, “and I hope that no Greek – or any student in general – would impede the mechanics of communication on campus.”
Representative of LXA International Bill Farkas also expressed dismay that any students would destroy the work of their peers, but focused his concern on the situation as a whole.
“I think that it’s a disappointment,” he said. “Lambda Chi Alpha has had a long history with the University of South Florida, and it has not been an easy situation. … But on the positive side – if there is any to this – I feel that the University and the general fraternity worked very closely and handled the situation the best way it could be handled. We look forward to maintaining that relationship with the University and look forward to our opportunity to return and once again be a successful chapter.”