Editorial: Phi Kappa Psi must answer to someone in stolen papers case

Leadership from the Daily Wildcat met with the Greek Standards Board last night for a hearing to consider whether or not the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was involved in the theft of more than 10,000 newspapers on Oct. 8, costing Arizona Student Media an estimated $8,500 in advertising revenue, printing costs and salaries.


The reasons for doing so are clear — the preponderance of evidence gathered by Daily Wildcat staff points to some kind of involvement by the fraternity's members, from members' homework found among the stolen property to numerous e-mails and phone calls pointing fingers toward Phi Psi's involvement in the newspaper case.

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""I am not in Phi Kappa Psi, but I was told of the incident before it occurred and can state with absolute certainty the following facts. The theft was carried out by members of Phi Kappa Psi, under the orders of fraternity leadership,"" wrote Brennan Vincent, a mathematics freshman. ""Everyone from the president to new pledges was involved in the incident. It was an effort to contain the spread of what Phi Kappa Psi members believe to be a false accusation of rape or attempted rape on Phi Kappa Psi property.""


A Police Beat item in the stolen issue contained a police report in which a woman said she thought she may have been drugged at a Phi Kappa Psi party.


Other callers and letter writers were less bold about allowing their names to appear in print, for fear of retaliation from friends or relatives in the fraternity.


Even so, it appears Phi Kappa Psi's probable involvement in this crime is the worst-kept secret on this campus. To date, Daily Wildcat editors have not received a single e-mail or phone call from readers denying Phi Kappa Psi's involvement in the case, or asking editorial staff to ease off the fraternity. The Daily Wildcat has also not received a single phone call or letter to the editor from the fraternity leadership itself.


Furthermore, Daily Wildcat staff haven't received any tips or gathered any evidence implicating other groups or individuals in the crime. To steal 10,000 newspapers in a span of less than two hours requires organization and manpower. No two people could have done this. It stands to reason that, if another organization were involved, someone would have talked by now.


One thing is certain; Phi Kappa Psi members Alex Cornell and Nick Kovaleski are linked to this theft. Their homework was discovered among the stolen newspapers found near West Anklam Road and North Cameron View Place. It didn't just blow there in the wind.


However, for some inexplicable reason, campus police failed to follow through on anything resembling an investigation, declining to question Cornell, Kovaleski or even Phi Kappa Psi President Keith Peters.


Additionally, Peters himself promised an internal investigation into Phi Kappa Psi's involvement in the theft. So far he has released no results to the public, nor provided proof that such an investigation is underway. Even if Peters did not order this blatantly illegal action, at least two of his fraternity's members are indisputably implicated in the crime. It is Peters' responsibility as a leader on this campus to, if nothing else, investigate when his members are accused of felony theft from the university and potentially criminal violations of civil rights.


But so far Peters has done nothing. Of course, it's fully within this man's rights to decline comment to the Daily Wildcat. It's also Peters' decision whether he lets his membership run amok or not. But, whether he likes it or not, his silence and inaction are damning. Until evidence is provided to the contrary, all signs point to Phi Kappa Psi being involved in this crime.


Let's get something straight; Daily Wildcat leadership does not want to be in the position of leading a crusade against this fraternity, but we've been forced into that position. Perhaps if campus police had done their jobs and investigated this crime, this editorial would be unnecessary. But instead Daily Wildcat staff have been forced to do their own police work, and that is wrong.


It is the staff's understanding that the Greek Standards Board will release the results of its deliberations by this weekend. While Daily Wildcat leadership felt it was necessary to go through any and all channels to find some justice in this case, the investigation should not end there. If campus police and Phi Kappa Psi will do nothing, the UA administration must launch its own thorough and complete investigation into this incident if this university can truly claim to value both property rights and free speech.


To do nothing sets a dangerous precedent. If UA officials do not start treating this case seriously, they tell the community that anyone who has a grievance with a university department can steal $8,500.


Until this case is definitively settled, the newspaper's staff will continue to do whatever is necessary to find justice in this case. First Amendment advocates and journalists from across the state and the country have called in to the Daily Wildcat offices to inquire after this incident. We would be remiss in our duties if we let this thing go.



— Editorials are determined by the opinions board, which includes Shain Bergan, Alex Dalenberg, Laura Donovan and Heather Price-Wright.


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