Dispute over $5 escalates at SUNY student newspaper

Student Press Law Center | The Stylus

The Stylus, the student newspaper at the State University of New York at Brockport, whacked a hornets' nest when it asked the student government's business manager about a small amount of money that appeared to have gone missing, Sara Tirrito writes:

Last month, Stylus staff noticed that $5.03 was missing in an accounting of money that the paper had fundraised for the Red Cross, [Stylus Editor-in-Chief Cassandra] Negley said. Stylus Business Manager Lois Caldwell and Negley then asked Student Government Business Manager Kathy Yarid, who could not explain the discrepancy.

After her discussion with Stylus staff members, Yarid called Caldwell and threatened that “there would be hell to pay” if her name appeared in the paper, Caldwell said.

Following this incident, Yarid then began enforcing a previously looser timecard deadline and the paper's staff didn't get paid.

In the past, Yarid has accepted late timecards and had never mentioned the deadline.

“[I didn’t enforce it] because I was being agreeable,” Yarid said. “I don’t have to enforce it if I don’t want to.”

Incredibly, things escalated: Negley was asked to testify before a student government committee over how the paper spent $800 for the paper's "Welcome Weekend issue," according to a Stylus account. And then...take it away, Student Press Law Center:

Then, on Wednesday, Negley was alerted to a Twitter post directed at the paper that said, “@brockportstylus someone please break negleys fingers and greatly improve the quality of this toilet paper you call the stylus [sic].”

The tweet came from a user named @LedoggyReptar and has since been deleted. Negley took a screenshot and reported the tweet to police as a threat. According to a campus police report, officers interviewed Brian Witmer, the student government vice president, about the account.

Witmer said he does not know what individual maintains the account, which is about a year old. He did confirm that the account impersonates his dog, Reptar.

"The fate of the missing five dollars has not yet been discovered," Tirrito writes.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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