DASB senators remove newspapers, attempt to shut up student voice4 min read

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Adam Conston

Mariah Bravo, Editor in chief

At least two DASB Senate members are identified in a theft of nearly 500 La Voz Weekly newspapers Monday, April 22, attempting to hide a front-page article regarding allegations of senate members receiving sexual favors and drinking alcohol in the senate offices, violating the DASB Student Code of Conduct.

Removing more than 25 copies of a free newspaper is a violation of California Law.

Ryan Royster, senate member, admitted to taking a stack of papers near the Flint Center, and identified Tatyana Grinenko, chair of marketing, as his partner in the theft. Grinenko was also identified by several other senate sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because of their continuing involvement with the senate. She had no comment.

Royster said he was in the senate offices when he asked Grinenko if she seen the front page story, and her response was “Ryan, we have to get rid of these.”

That day’s front-page La Voz story reported on allegations made by senate member Daniel Kim that other senators had engaged in sex and alcohol use in the senate offices and violating open-meeting laws. (See related story)

“At the time I wasn’t thinking. I was like ‘Oh you’re my senate chair. You’re my friend. I’ll just listen to you,’” Royster said of his conversation with Grinenko, but said he took the papers for “distribution purposes.”

Royster said he put the papers on the front desk in the senate office where he thought it would be available for senate members, but by the time he got back Grinenko had a stack of papers in her locker.

La Voz business manager Micheal Mannina walked into the senate offices around 10:50 a.m. Monday after hearing that senators were seen taking stacks of papers from newsstands.

That was when Royster said he realized the seriousness of his actions.

“That’s when it clicked to me that what we just did was really bad,” Royster said.

After Mannina left the senate offices, Royster said, he replaced a stack of papers back on a newsstand. However, Mannina said that the sizes of the stacks returned were not close to the size he originally placed.

Royster said that he had several confrontations with Grinenko between the day of the theft and Thursday, May 2, but none of them ended well. Grinenko has been telling senate members the wrong account of the theft, Royster said, including that stealing the papers was Royster’s idea.

“I’m not going to forget those words,” Royster said recalling the first confrontation between Grinenko and him the day of the theft.

Mannina said Grinenko told him the newspapers were stolen because the front page story did not include all the details and “she did not want the student body to read that story because it wasn’t entirely accurate.

“I told her it was not her place; that’s censorship,” Mannina said. “That’s something the student body should have to decide.”

Royster said Grinenko has attempted to reach out to him through Facebook messages in order to get their story straight because they had planned to run as a president/ vice-president ticket in the upcoming senate elections.

The theft is a violation of the California Penal Code Section 490.7, which reads in part “No person shall take more than twenty-five (25) copies of the current issue of a free or complimentary newspaper,” to “deprive others of the opportunity to read them.”

John Cognetta, director of the student activities had no comment on the theft, but said  that Michelle LeBleu Burns, Dean of Student Development, was leading the investigation. Burns had no comment on any updates.

Mary Mazzocco, president of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges wrote in an email interview that even before the newspaper theft law was enacted, courts recognized that taking and dumping stacks of free newspapers was theft.

“Student officers should realize that with the power they enjoy comes a responsibility to the public,” Mazzocco wrote. “Instead of trying to sweep bad news under the rug, they should face it and tell people what they are doing to address the problem.”

DASB Senate voted  in February to grant La Voz $15,000 for printing and a web platform as part of the senate’s $1.3 million budget.

 

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