When the racks first went missing, we were concerned about the possible loss of our First Amendment rights to express ourselves on campus. Not to mention our private property rights. The Weekly may be free, but those metal racks cost cold cash.
The UA grounds crew initially told us that vandals had bashed our racks with a baseball bat. They said they hauled the debris off to the landfill early Saturday morning.
Turns out, though, that someone--we never figured out exactly who--had determined our racks were "unsightly" because of graffiti, stickers and a dent here or there. There was no baseball-bat basher, just an overzealous do-gooder trying to spruce up our image again.
And not just ours. Al Tarcola, head of facilities management at the U of A, told us that some three dozen paper racks were hauled off to the dump. The Weekly, The Daily Wildcat, TV y mas, the Dandy Dime and real estate, apartment and employment guides--all free papers--were removed from various locations on the campus mall.
To his credit, Tarcola offered to make good on our loss, which ran into the hundreds of dollars. It may cost the cash-strapped UA a few thousand bucks to make up for this lack of judgment but, as Tarcola said, "Every time you make a stupid mistake, it costs you money."
The UA might pay attention to that kind of common sense in its search to deliver quality higher education at a cost the state could afford. As for us, we'll be keeping an eye on our newspaper racks--but we don't promise to be more sightly.