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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Papers thrown away by Unite campaigners

<p>A stack of Alligator newspapers sit unread in a trash bin at Weimer Hall on Monday morning.</p>

A stack of Alligator newspapers sit unread in a trash bin at Weimer Hall on Monday morning.

At about 9:15 a.m. Monday, 268 crisp Alligator newspapers were found shoved into a trash bin on the north side of Weimer Hall. They were crowned by one newspaper with a wind-blown cover bearing the headline: "Muschamp endorses Student Government VP candidate."

Minutes before, a man and a woman wearing Unite Party T-shirts were seen pulling stacks of Alligators from the two orange racks that sit outside of the hall.

Eyewitnesses and a source affiliated with the Unite Party told the Alligator that Jason Tiemeier, Student Senate president pro tempore and campaign volunteer, was the man spotted discarding the newspapers.

Health science and pre-physical therapy sophomore Taylor Chambers said he was standing near the two orange racks at about 9 a.m. when he saw Tiemeier and a woman discarding Alligators.

Chambers, 20, said when the pair noticed him watching, they stopped. Journalism junior and Alligator freelance reporter Elizabeth Hamilton, 19, approached Tiemeier and asked him what he was doing.

He told her he was going to pass out the newspapers.

Chambers witnessed the exchange and said Tiemeier and the woman walked off with a stack of Alligators.

Tiemeier told the Alligator he was not involved, saying he was at home Monday morning.

"I was sleeping," he said.

Brock Hankins, campaign manager for the Unite Party, echoed Tiemeier.

"It was not Jason Tiemeier, and it was not anyone affiliated with the Unite Party," he said.

It is not clear whether Tiemeier and the woman were instructed by party leadership or if they were acting alone.

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Students Party President Ford Dwyer said he was not surprised by the morning's events.

"People have told me that in previous elections, it has been a tactic to censor certain speech in the Alligator that [the Unite Party] didn't want students to know about," he said.

Capt. Jeff Holcomb of the UF Police Department said this activity might be considered theft because even though the newspapers are free, they are not intended for mass destruction. The incident would definitely be referred to Student Conduct, he said. In his 24 years of service, he said, he has never heard of this happening.

Chris Loschiavo, assistant dean of students and director of student conduct and conflict resolution, said the legality of trashing hundreds of copies of a free newspaper is unclear.

"It's certainly not a black-and-white issue," he said. "There's a lot of shades of gray."

Alligator staff writers Joey Flechas, Elizabeth Hamilton, Erin Jester, Clare Lennon, Emily Morrow, Jon Silman and Matt Watts contributed to this report.

A stack of Alligator newspapers sit unread in a trash bin at Weimer Hall on Monday morning.

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