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NEWSPAPER HEIST! Copies of LIU's student paper disappear; editor implicates dirty food service

The Feb. 22 issue of Seawanhaka, the LIU-Brooklyn student newspaper, was reprinted and distributed again on Feb. 28.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Almost the entire pressrun of the LIU-Brooklyn student newspaper vanished from the Downtown campus last weekend, after the paper published a cover story about a one-day shutdown by the city Health Department of an on-campus restaurant.

The Blackbird Cafe in Conolly Hall, operated by Aramark food services in Philadelphia, was shut down on Feb. 14, then reopened on Feb. 15 with a “grade pending” rating, according to Mabel Martinez, the editor in chief of Seawanhaka, and managing editor Keeley Ibrahim. Because this was an important issue, they said, the paper decided to write a story about it. The story, by Shaelyne Moodie and Chase Melvin, was headlined, “Dirty Dining: Blackbird Cafe Closes After Failing Inspection.” The story said there had been student complaints about feeling sick, unsanitary conditions, poor preparation of food, and more.

The inspection report on the city Health Department’s website shows a history of violations, with roaches, problems with the sewage disposal system and improperly maintained plumbing mentioned for the most recent inspection.

Ms. Ibrahim told the Eagle that the newspaper is usually delivered to various locations on Fridays, when many students are not in class. When classes resumed on Monday, she said, copies of the paper could not be found in its usual distribution points.

One of the school’s staffers, she said, had told her that someone had told other staffers to remove copies of the newspaper, but no names were given.

Soon afterward, said Ms. Martinez, the editors were called to a meeting with the student government and Michael Carbone, the on-campus food manager representing Aramark. She said that he could not give any answers about the management of the cafe, saying he had to clear everything with corporate headquarters.

The paper was reprinted, said Ms. Ibrahim, on Thursday, and this time, editors and reporters gave copies of the paper out by hand. The two editors say they plan to follow up the story in the future.

Brian Harmon, director of public relations at LIU-Brooklyn, confirmed that the papers had gone missing, and that the students had reprinted them.

“When students came in on Monday, there were no papers on the racks, and people suspected that they had been taken,” he said.

Harmon, while not commenting on the Blackbird Cafe story, said that this had never happened before, even when the paper had covered controversial items such as the teachers’ strike about a year and a half ago and tuition-hike disputes.

A spokesperson for Aramark in Philadelphia did not return phone calls by press time.

February 28, 2013 - 4:41pm


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