MILWAUKEE -- Two more members of UW-Milwaukee's Student Association have stepped down from their positions. This comes after the Student Association's president recently resigned amid a university investigation regarding sexual assault allegations. This time, the students aren't facing criminal charges, but rather, could face civil charges in a lawsuit to be filed by the school's newspaper.
On October 31st, an issue of UW-Milwaukee's UWM Post hit the newsstands, and hours later, a Post staff member noticed hundreds of copies missing. The paper says 800 issues were taken. "I figured it was maybe a janitorial accident, or an overzealous art student building paper mache or something," UWM Post Editor-in-Chief Zach Erdman said.
Erdman says the paper filed a report with police, but didn't really expect foul play, until a week or so ago, when someone told them the papers were in one of the Students Association's offices. That particular issue of the paper included an editorial critical of a Student Association event. After a search of the security camera footage in the Student Union, two people are seen taking the papers from the newsstand.
In the security video, the people are unrecognizable, but after a photo from a Student Association event held on the same day the papers went missing was found, the UWM Post's staff says the pieces started falling into place, because of identifying clothing.
The UWM Post staff says through their investigation and interviews, they believe two members of the Student Association, who resigned Sunday, eventually disposed of the papers, and one of them ordered the papers to be taken from the newsstands. Now, staff with the UWM Post says they plan to file suit against these Student Association members, for allegedly violating First Amendment civil rights. "A head of student government in this state, at least, is an extension of state government, and therefore, this is censorship of the press," Erdman said.
UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor Tom Luljack says state law gives students the right to organize and govern themselves without faculty advisors, but says: "it is our expectation that students who are in a leadership position will follow all rules, all policies, and of course, follow the law."
The lawsuit is expected to be filed by the end of the week. FOX6's efforts to reach a spokesman for the Student Association were unsuccessful, as well as efforts to reach the accused. UW-Milwaukee is now planning to require newly-elected students of any student organization to take a leadership training class.