Student Newspaper’s Illegal Smuggling Story Leads to Legal Threats, Theft, Intimidation
The student newspaper at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi faced a strange set of roadblocks related to a report in its most recent issue. The odd saga involves a campus fraternity, illegal immigrant smuggling, harassment, newspaper theft, lots of bluster about a lawsuit and a raised middle finger.
The 90-second summary: On the front page of its final edition of the semester, the Island Waves planned to publish a story “about two former students, both members of [the campus fraternity] Kappa Sigma, who were involved in smuggling undocumented immigrants in South Texas.” The former students eventually spoke to law enforcement about the smuggling operation, leading to its downfall and multiple arrests of others who had taken part.
The former students, and their current frat brothers, were apparently not happy to learn about the impending Island Waves piece. According to the San Antonio Express-News, some Kappa Sig guys first warned the paper not to print the former students’ names because they were now allegedly in the federal witness protection program and revealing their identities would be illegal.
Island Waves editor Allison Dyckman: “They claimed what we were doing was wrong, that the people involved were federally protected and if we distributed they were going to have their lawyers fly down on their jets and sue us. We went into panic mode.”
The Student Press Law Center calmed that panic, assuring Dyckman the paper was on solid legal footing to print the story and names. And it turns out the former students are NOT in witness protection anyway. They simply don’t want to remind some of their old smuggling colleagues that they were the ones who helped get them busted.
As one of the former students wrote on the Island Waves Facebook page once the issue containing the story appeared: “Thank you for endangering my life. I’m sure my family won’t be upset if I’m found in a barrel of acid for rolling on an organization that I was barely a part of for just one week of my life.”
Separately, the Island Waves distribution manager declined to deliver the papers due to a Kappa Sigma conflict of interest. Yowza. To be clear, the story was published and the issue eventually arrived in newsstands across campus — but not without additional problems for the paper and staff.
“First, the staff adviser reported a student believed to be acting on orders from Kappa Sigma removed dozens of newspapers from racks. Next, the reporter who penned the story alleged she was intimidated by members of the fraternity. In another, Dyckman said she was harassed by a hostile driver while leaving campus. ‘He aggressively passed me and stuck his middle finger up at me again,’ Dyckman wrote to campus officials.”