Tensions between a student newspaper and a student government at the University of Florida took a turn for the worse last week amid accusations of fabrications and theft, according to a report by the Student Press Law Center.
More than 250 unread copies of the student newspaper, The Independent Florida Alligator, were discovered in a trash can the day before the student government elections, allegedly placed there by Student Senate president pro tempore Jason Tiemeier.
Alligator editor-in-chief Joey Flechas claimed its sources were two students who saw Tiemeier place the newspapers there, but Student Senate spokesperson Christina Bonarrigo said the newspaper talks only to her, so the anonymous sources are invalid.
The story becomes even uglier when party politics becomes introduced. The front page story in the newspaper that day was a story on an endorsement of a vice-presidential candidate from Tiemeier’s opposition party — which could be viewed as a motive for the act.
Bonarrigo said she also spoke with a witness who denied the Alligator’s story, although whether it was the same witness the Alligator mentioned is unclear. But she said the newspaper is misleading students to think Tiemeier’s party has a connection to the alleged theft.
University of Florida police have not been involved in the case, but Flechas said he wasn’t even sure the newspaper could file a report when the campus police have never dealt with newspaper theft as a crime.