Newspapers, federal case hidden

I have never been as disappointed and outraged with the Mercyhurst community as I am now.

On the cover of last week’s issue of The Merciad was the story about Sean Sickmund, ex-Mercyhurst student who has been charged by federal authorities with online enticement and requesting child pornography. This was a story many at Mercyhurst overlooked in the Erie Times-News, but our staff was able to make the Mercyhurst community aware of this situation.

The release of this story appears to have been an inconvenience among some people the university, though.

It appears that some folks around Mercyhurst did not want current students, visiting prospective students or their families to become aware of what is obviously disturbing news about a former student.

What happened is that the hundreds of last week’s copies of The Merciad were thrown in the trash.

Several editors found stacks of The Merciad in the trash and put them back in the newspaper stands. Later, the same editors saw that the newspapers were missing again, but this time they were nowhere to be found.

Did these people really think this was the best solution?

The last time newspapers went missing on campus was October 2004, when nearly all the copies of the Erie Times-News were removed from campus newspaper boxes so students would not see a report about the college president at that time.

But what happened last week did not involve just an Erie Times-News article. It involved The Merciad, a publication that many Mercyhurst students dedicate a great amount of time and effort into producing.

From what I can tell, this made no difference to those who participated in throwing away copies of The Merciad.

Perhaps it would make a difference if I asked for a reimbursement from those involved.

The Merciad uses ad revenue to pay the printing costs each week. Last week, we had four advertisers who expected their ads to be available for viewing for a total of seven days.

That’s approximately $500 in ad revenue.

As a communication major, I understand the need to maintain the university’s reputation, but the news was already released.

Sickmund’s story was already reported online, on the air and in print from local news sources.

This past weekend, those involved were restricting many people from access to pertinent information.

Several people within administration stated for The Merciad news account that the Sickmund case would not affect the university’s reputation and its students. Apparently not everyone viewed it this way.

Someone tried last weekend to sweep Sickmund’s case under the rug as if it didn’t happen.

So I’m disappointed, not only by the disrespect towards a hardworking group of students, but also for some people’s inability to handle bad news in an appropriate way.