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Senators claim they were told to take newspapers

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Two student senators named last week by Student Trustee Keith Wilbur as having been involved in the theft of newspapers during last spring’s Student Senate election have confirmed they were instructed to take copies of The Post, but claim they refused to do so.

Vice Commissioner of Government Affairs Alex Howell confirmed Student Senate President Anna Morton’s description of a “half-joking” discussion among VOICE candidates in which stealing copies of The Post was mentioned. According to Howell and Morton’s accounts, this conversation took place April 16, the night The Post endorsed VOICE’s opposition ticket, FUSS.

“I don’t remember who first proposed the idea,” Howell said. At the time, Howell said he thought such an action would be an unsuccessful, bad idea.

Howell and fellow student senator Jalen Carter allege that on the morning of April 17, current Senate Government Affairs Commissioner Jordan Ballinger texted a group of about eight VOICE members — Carter and Howell included — and told them to take copies of The Post.

Carter and Howell said neither of them followed Ballinger’s instruction, and Carter said he believes only a “small portion, if any” of people who apparently received Ballinger’s message actually took the newspapers.

Ballinger said he does not recall sending this text message.

“It didn’t happen,” Ballinger said. “If it did happen, it was probably jokingly.”

Later on April 17, Howell and other VOICE green senator candidates were called by Morton and Wilbur to a meeting in James Hall. When the candidates arrived to the meeting, Howell said their cellphones were taken and they waited for up to an hour in silence for Wilbur to arrive.

After he arrived, Wilbur apparently screamed at the candidates in a manner that Carter described as “verbally abusive,” while Morton sat silently. According to Howell, Wilbur instructed the candidates to delete the text messages on their phones and to never speak of the incident again, threatening their futures as members of Senate if they were to do so.

Howell said to his recollection, not one of the candidates called to the meeting admitted to taking newspapers.

According to Carter and Howell, the incident has rarely, if ever, come up in conversation among the senators since that day.

“It was just something we didn’t speak of,” Carter said.

While both senators confirm it was ultimately Ballinger who instructed members of the VOICE ticket to take copies of The Post, Howell is not convinced that it was an idea that originated with Ballinger.

“Jordan’s not the kind of person who would have done that all on his own,” Howell said.

At least 900 copies of The Post were reported stolen on April 17 from Scott Quadrangle, Baker University Center, Alden Library and Bentley Hall, according to an Ohio University Police Department incident report. The case remains under investigation.

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