Thousands of Voice Copies Disappear

By Rebecca Sinderbrand Hoya Staff Writer

Nearly 5,000 copies of Feb. 25 edition of The Georgetown Voice disappeared from campus early last Friday morning. Nicole Gesualdo (COL ’99), the paper’s editor-in-chief, said The Voice planned to actively pursue the question of who had taken the issues, which constituted most of the Voice’s 8,000 copy press run.

“We will not let ourselves be repressed by individuals that do not agree with what we have to say,” Gesualdo said.

DPS has launched an investigation into the incident, which will be led by Sgt. Gilbert Bussey. DPS Chief William Tucker said that an initial report would be made public in two or three days. DPS officers have been given instructions to pay close attention to the Voice’s usual drop-off locations, and report any unusual activity.

The Voice normally distributes Thursdays during the academic year to locations such as the Leavey Center, classroom buildings, dorms and several off-campus sites. After last Thursday’s issue had been distributed as usual, copies were removed from all on-campus locations that were not locked overnight.

In many instances, all of the Feb. 25 edition had been removed, while stacks of the Feb. 18 edition were still lying untouched in the Voice’s designated racks. A search of dumpsters and recycling bins across campus by Voice staffers yielded few copies of the publication, Gesualdo said.

Several students have raised the question of whether the publication had been removed by opponents of its content. The issue included, among other items, an editorial criticizing the Turkish government, a music review criticizing Dave atthews, an opinion piece advocating sex education at Georgetown and a confidential letter of nomination for J. Brooken Smith (COL ’00), to the Second Society of Stewards – an all-male secret society that has been the subject of years of controversy at Georgetown.

The Voice attained Smith’s nomination letter after a Voice staffer found it in a Lauinger copy machine, Gesualdo said.

The Voice will not be able to reprint the missing issue due to the cost, about $1,400, according to Gesualdo. The paper has placed the entire content of its missing issue on its web site, georgetownvoice.com.

In addition, Gesualdo has posted a letter on The Voice’s web site that reads, “The copies’ disappearance has led The Voice staff to believe that they were taken not by regular readers, but by one or more individuals who wanted to keep the issue from public sight. . The acceptable method for public disagreement with a published item, in The Voice or in any other publication, is a letter to the editor.”

The message also asked those individuals with information about the disappearance of the issues to contact the paper.

The publication theft is the second such occurrence at Georgetown University this academic year. Last semester, students involved with the Georgetown Academy, a conservative off-campus publication, said they had found copies of their publication removed from the Village C location where they had been placed, and lying in a nearby dumpster.

The Voice incident comes on the eve of a forum on free speech at Georgetown, scheduled for today at 4 p.m. in the Copley Formal Lounge. The leadership of the Academy requested the forum after last fall’s removal of their issues. That event raised issues of “censorship and freedom of thought on the Georgetown campus,” according to Smith, the publisher of the Academy and also the subject of the Steward nomination letter printed in the Feb. 25 Voice.

Academy editor-in-chief Sean Rushton, (SFS ’95, GRD ’99) said the Voice incident highlighted questions over “how the university community and the administration will handle disciplining whoever is responsible for the theft.”

He added that he believed there was a double standard when it came to campus publications’ decisions to cover the current Voice theft, but not last fall’s disappearance of the Academy. Rushton attributed this situation in part to the Academy’s status as what he termed a “dissident group,” rather than a university-sponsored publication.

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