Officials show support after seizure of CT newspapers

More than 10 kiosks on Monroe Park campus were emptied, including one outside of Cabell Library. Photo by Jon Mirador

Hannah Eason, News Editor

VCU, the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture and a Virginia delegate are among many who have condemned the seizure of more than 800 newspapers that were taken from The Commonwealth Times’ kiosks on Monroe Park campus, following an article outlining conflict in the Student Government Association.

A group of SGA senators called for the impeachment of President Breanna Harmon on Friday after witnesses reported that some leaders seized stacks of the publication from newsstands. 

“We always support free press, and are extremely disappointed by the two members within SGA and David Greene, who blatantly attempted to censor free press and the Commonwealth Times,” read a statement from SGA senators.

According to a calculation from Student Media Center Director Allison Dyche, the total production costs for the issue were $1,847, based on printing and payroll for staff members, not including professional staff hours. Each issue is valued at $1, based on a policy published at the bottom of The Commonwealth Times’ masthead.

The policy states that each student is allowed one free issue, and each subsequent paper is $1.

Papers were also removed from a kiosk in Shafer Dining Court. Photo by Jon Mirador

Three student workers in the Commons, who asked to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation from their employer, independently told The Commonwealth Times they saw Commons Director David Greene remove a display copy of the newspaper on Wednesday. The statement referenced SGA President Breanna Harmon and Student Life Chairwoman Raelyn Davis as two students who took newspapers from kiosks around campus. 

When reached via phone call, Harmon declined to comment on the incident.

VCU spokespeople have not responded to questions regarding whether Greene was involved in the removal of the newspapers.

The Commonwealth Times’ news editor Hannah Eason saw an SGA member and an unknown student removing all copies of the newspaper Wednesday night from a kiosk outside Trani Life Sciences Building.

A student worker in the Commons, located adjacent to a Commonwealth Times kiosk, said she saw a member of SGA removing all of the newspapers from the box. She said Harmon was with the person who was taking the publications. 

“Not the president but another member, I don’t know her name, took the whole stack and they started to walk towards the president,” the worker said. “They just went upstairs and they came back down with only one paper. So I’m pretty sure they just threw them out.”

On Feb. 26, The Commonwealth Times released an article about conflict within the SGA. Several members of the organization, including Vice President Alexia Guzman and Chief of Staff Taylor Maloney, detailed experiences of conflict and allegations of harassment.

Speaker of the SGA Senate Udhanth Mallasani said the options are limited for members to resolve issues within the organization.

“We’ve tried to hold, time and time and again, the advisors and our administration accountable,” Mallasani said in the Feb. 26 article. “Our only way of holding them accountable is by taking it to the judiciary, taking it to the senate, or taking it to the advisors.”

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