Editor’s note: This story has been updated since it was first posted

Matthew Chan / Courier Faculty Association President Roger Marheine, left, escorts PCC Courier adviser Warren Swil off the PCC campus. Swil was placed on administrative leave on Friday March 29, 2013.
Matthew Chan / Courier
Faculty Association President Roger Marheine, left, escorts PCC Courier adviser Warren Swil off the campus on Friday, March 29, 2013. Swil was placed on administrative leave the day before.

Warren Swil, a journalism professor who advises the Courier was put on administrative leave on March 28, leaving the staff with the immense pressure of putting out a paper while grappling with the fact that the top story they had to investigate centered around their former adviser.

Swil has advised the Courier since 2007 and has been told that he is not allowed to comment on being placed on administrative leave.

“I’m not at liberty to speak about it,” Swil said. He was advised in a letter that he should not talk to anybody about the matter.

On Wednesday however, Swil spoke to KPCC about his present state of mind. “This entire situation is enormously stressful,” Swil told KPCC. “I have been placed under medical supervision.”

Officially, Swil was placed on administrative leave due to “employee misconduct,” with the specific details yet to be released.

Joe Futtner, the dean of the visual arts and media studies division, said that Swil’s leave will continue “pending the outcome of an investigation.” Futtner also added that the nature of the complaint made against Swil is, and will remain confidential.

The whole sequence of events of Swil’s departure caught the entire staff off guard. He was escorted off campus minutes before the Journalism class, leaving a room of curious journalists wondering why he wasn’t there.

As the story unfolded, Courier editors became suspicious after the newspaper adviser was put on leave just two days after President Mark Rocha visited the newsroom and made it clear that he had a problem with the Courier’s coverage.

While the timing seemed suspicious the administration has made numerous statements to assure people that the decision was not retaliatory against the paper.

On Monday, Bob Bell, senior vice president and assistant superintendent of business and college services, refuted speculation that the decision to place Swil on administrative leave or that it had anything to do with the Courier’s recent coverage.

“I made the decision that placing Prof. Swil on paid leave was legally required and was necessary for the protection of the complainant,” Bell said in a statement. “It would be an invasion of Prof. Swil’s privacy, and that of the complainant, to publish details of the allegations in order to let the college community know this has absolutely nothing to do with retaliation.”

However, in the same statement to the campus, Bell wrote that the school’s general counsel, Gail Cooper, informed FA President Roger Marheine of the specific details of the complaint, a stark contrast to their earlier assertion of placing individual privacy as paramount importance.

Marheine would not comment on what Cooper told him.

The complainant confirmed with the Courier that he did make a formal complaint against Swil, but did not go into detail about it. The complainant wishes to remain anonymous, and referred the reporter to his lawyer for comment. The attorney, Kevin Rehwald, also declined to comment.

The Faculty Association also chimed in, chastising the administration who they say made the decision to remove Swils was made “without notice.”

“It is regrettable in the extreme that the ones to suffer most from Swil’s forced departure are the students,” the FA statement reads.

“The administration’s callous disregard for their interests speaks volumes about its priorities.”

The Courier will continue to publish online and in the print edition every Thursday as planned.

Matthew Chan / Courier PCC Courier adviser Warren Swil collects personal affects from his office after being placed on administrative leave on Friday March 29, 2013.
Matthew Chan / Courier
PCC Courier adviser Warren Swil collects personal belongings from his office on Friday, March 29, 2013. Swil was placed on administrative leave the day before.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Perhaps that biggest story of the year, a story that directly affects the Courier, but the Courier did not have a single story or update this week. Shame on you.

    1. I agree that there should be an update. But there has just been no new info. The Courier and its staff will report on any additional information that comes up. There just isn’t anything new yet concerning Swil yet. Give them time and they will get the info out as soon as it is available.

      The big news now is Rocha, not Swil.

      1. It has been three weeks since Professor Swil was put on “administrative leave”, or is is “medical leave”, yet, although this is the biggest story of the year directly affecting the Courier itself, there has been absolutely no follow up from the Courier. What is being covered up? Again, I say “shame on the Courier”.

  2. I had Swil for journalism and boy was he a great teacher! I enjoyed his class and learned a lot. I know he only stands for the truth and nothing but the truth. Best of luck to all at the Courier and to Professor Swil as well.

  3. As someone who had the unique opportunity to be a part of both the Courier Staff and the school’s inner PR/admin workings, I would LOVE to be back on campus right now.

    Swil is a JOURNALIST first and a FACULTY MEMBER of PCC second. PCC understood this when they saw the value of his previous working experiences and first hired him. The one disturbing issue I have with this whole story (above and beyond the scheduling conflicts of the few would-be-transfers, my heart goes out to you) is the fact that Swil is a placeholder and ultimately has nothing to do with the situation. This is about transparency; something that should never cause for concern in a public school.

    Students: Don’t worry too much about the Swil-Dawg. You can easily make him the most happy teacher in the world by continuing to dig deep and hunt down leads.

    1. Swil-Dawg will prevail!

      I love seeing all the support from PCC faculty and staff, and especially the former Courier Staff. I hated PCC, but LOVED The Courier.

      keep up the good work.

      (former editor turned PR? i think could take a guess at your identity)

  4. Yo Warren ~

    You need some serious representation here. Not some burned out hippie – radical from the 60’s in need of a clean baseball cap, shave, haircut, wardrobe and a bath !

    Okay. He can keep the sweat – stained baseball cap.

  5. Hey Hawk, thanks for that Huffington Post link–it explains why something like a calendar change has turned into a nasty fight that will go on, and on, and on … I would think that the number of students who may have trouble transferring to UC or CSU because of the calendar change must be less than 1% of the student body so I didn’t understand all of the outrage directed against the admin–but now I do. This whole mess reminds me of the dysfunction in Washington D.C., and it should be as much fun to watch as the Stockton bankruptcy–the city owes CalPERS a billion dollars and it doesn’t want to pay.

    https://www.latimes.com/local/la-xpm-2013-apr-01-la-me-stockton-bankrupt-20130402-story.html

    1. PCC’s Board of Trustees and the Present Superintendent “I’m an Adjunct, too!” Rocha are trying their best to keep a straight face while saying:
      “Shared Governance–
      It doesn’t really mean governance,
      and it doesn’t really mean shared . . . ”
      —-
      “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

      1. Good grief, if you are trying to support the faculty, you picked the wrong quote. “Animal Farm” is a novel about corrupt revolutions, and was inspired by events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the novel, the animals revolt and drive Farmer Jones from the farm. The pigs assume leadership and enact the “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” law after they have established themselves as rulers.

        If the faculty succeeds in overthrowing Rocha and the Board and if they take over PCC, students should be very afraid. The faculty won’t hesitate to put their pay and pensions ahead of the needs of the students and the college.

      2. Redefine, how true.
        1) PCC Board of Trustees asserts that once you step on campus, the English language undergoes a magical transformation, and (ahem) “Shared” does not mean “shared”, and (ahem) “Governance” does not mean “governance.”
        2) Rocha is the only PCC Adjunct who has never been reviewed, can’t be fired, and takes in more salary than the Governor of California or the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.

      3. um, Bear Stearns, who makes $19,000 a MONTH? who is the highest paid college president in SoCal? Rocha makes around $230K and VPs make $180K approx. contract negs don’t always have to do with raises, and if people actually INFORMED themselves, they would know that this time it’s very much about the STUDENTS.

  6. The Rocha no confidence vote is LONG overdue. I have always known PCC to be a great school, but after spending two years there working on The Courier (with the WONDERFUL AMAZING staff currently working there) I learned a lot about how the school operates. Board members are out of touch with what goes happens on campus, President Rocha runs the school like a business and not a place for education.

    Prof. Swil is an ethical, smart, and amazing teacher. My time at PCC would have been completely worthless if I hadn’t been involved in the newspaper. I don’t know the reasoning behind him being put on “administrative leave,” but I seem to remember this happening to someone else last semester and it was the last time we heard from that faculty member.

    Robbing PCC of Prof. Swil would be a grave injustice to all the journalism students and PCC as a whole. Rocha has lied to KPCC, The Courier, and the student over and over.

    CENSORSHIP is not the answer. Rocha should be put on permanent “Administrative Leave” and Swil should be given a medal.

    1. So Nick, you are saying that he should be awarded a medal for (allegedly) harassing students?

      Were you involved in any way with him?????

  7. It speaks volumes that the PCC Admin. used Police to get rid of Professor Swil. By what wild imaginings of Rocha and his VeePees did this journalism teacher become a threat to college safety? (“Look out, he’s got a VERB!”)
    Students, staff, and faculty continue to pay the price when an administration’s paranoid fantasies are implemented as policy.
    Thank goodness Faculty Association supported Prof. Swil through the ejection process.
    Moving Forward is a catchy slogan . . .

  8. All of the attention in this drama playing out at PCC is on Dr. Rocha. While he definitely deserved that vote of no confidence, so does the Board of Trustees. Whenever students or faculty complain about some outlandish change on the campus, Dr. Rocha reminds them that the board makes the final decisions. If that is the case, the entire campus should make sure the board knows that only the president and his cronies have confidence in the board–the rest of us, and that 98%–have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in the board of trustees. If students and faculty want to save this college, we can’t wait to vote the scoundrels out; we have to shame them out of office. What the board has allowed to happen to this school is a disgrace. How many more staff members have to be escorted off campus and put on administrative leave before people wake up? Keep up the good work Courier staff.

    1. Nope. You are wrong, Helena.

      You do not speak for the entire community. You are delusional.

      How many more staff members will be escorted off campus?

      Hmmm. Seems PCC faculty is without a contract, meaning any can be fired at any time at will.

      SWEET!!!!!

      1. Hawk Feather,

        Would you mind disclosing what sort of relationship you have to PCC? Are you a staff member, student, former student, faculty member, administrator, interested community member who has never set foot on campus, or what? Do you have any connection with the Rocha administration or the PCC public relations office? I’m curious, because I’ve never encountered anyone on campus who has sincerely expressed the views that you do in your posts here.

  9. The Courier staff should be aware that the “whole world” is now watching. Their response should be to produce the very best newspaper of the year next week, in print and online.
    The have shown tremendous professionalism and competence in difficult circumstances. They all can be proud of their work.
    Keep on rockin’!

  10. Rocha is tearing this school apart. The only noble (if there is such a word in his vocabulary) thing left for him to do is to resign. Only then can the college, in his words, “move forward.”

  11. Stay strong Courier staff. I have confidence that you guys will rally together to put out an incredible last few editions of the paper. You are all capable and have the support of so many. Make Swil proud, make PCC proud, make yourselves proud.

  12. I have know Warren Swil for almost 30 years now, and he has always been an avid spokesperson for truth and justice! It might just be for that very reason, the PCC administration are resorting to this desperate measure, to keep Mr Swil at bay! It certainly was an unwise move on their part to do this!

  13. I’ve only heard rumors of what is going on but the suspension seems to do nothing with the administration hammering down on Warren Swil or the Courier. Allegedly it is a separate act that got him in hot water. I do not like the administration but if the allegations are at all true, there are more questions that need to be answered here. Let us not allow emotions and our dislike for authority to get in the way of what may be a huge story.

    For those on the staff, brace yourselves and put on your big boy journalism pants. It’s time to step up and write a hell of a lot better than what has been printed as of late, including with this horribly written story. Treat this with respect and do right by the Courier. Step up.

    1. Former staff: Thank you for reminding us that we shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the Courier’s coverage of campus politics is the reason for the administrative leave. You’re right, it could be something unrelated. But the timing of this arouses suspicion, especially with this administration, which has a track record of, as one of the other commenters put it, “thuggish moves.”

      1. Gutierrez’s job is to deliver the official story only–as [literally] dictated by the president and his cronies. The PCC Public Relations Office famously specializes in hard hitting narratives like “New Coffee Stirrers in Snak Bar” or “Rocha Adopts Lost Puppy”.
        –>> Today, with the campus roiling in outrage over college Mis-Administration, with greater than 90% voting No Confidence, with now yet another professor run off campus with no explanation, if we go to PCC for information, for facts, what do we find at the PCC website: (Pasadena.edu)? It says:
        “Hot News: Student 1098Ts now available!”

        “Get a grip” indeed . . .

      2. @Mary Barker:

        Really? I didn’t see the coffee stirrer article.

        But you know which article I did like?

        “PCC First Year Pathways Program Honored By Chancellors Office.” What a great program, huh? For student success? Yeah. Student success is something PCC faculty should be interested in besides their own greed.

        Over 90%? I’d like to see your numbers on that. I’m certain it’s not all-inclusive. PCC faculty is on a power trip. Share governance means you get to be part of the consultation process, but not the decision-making process. Yes, get an effing grip.

        https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-arguments-blow-up-ins_b_2785095

  14. This doesn’t smell right. The journalism professor is placed on administrative leave the day that a Rocha expose and timeline is printed by his newspaper? I hope that the Courier goes after the administration even harder now. It’s what those idiots deserve.

  15. As former Managing Editor of The Courier, I find this very suspicious. Keeo up the good work, and I wish al the best to Prof. Swil. The Administration at PCC is all kinds of shady. Some serious changes need to be made at that school. The Courier and its AMAZING staff should and will keep reporting on this story. Keep me updated guys! LONG LIVE SWIL!

      1. Why didn’t this happen when I was there? I would have loved all this excitement. Keep up the good work, dont take shit from the Admin and keep me posted!

  16. Does the administration not know that California has a state law now that outlaws retaliation against faculty for the student newspapers they advise? This professor can now sue the college, and the administrators who broke this state law are subject to criminal charges. Sen Leland Yee will not be happy when he finds out that this administration has violated the law he created. And the CNPA sponsored the bill; they will come down on the administration like a ton of bricks. Goodbye, administrators!

  17. I’m a journalism professor and faculty adviser of the student newspaper at Cal Poly Pomona and a former co-worker of Warren Swil. I don’t know any of the details, but I applaud the students for continuing to carry on with their important obligation.

  18. I am an English professor at Chaffey College, and, while I certainly don’t know all of the details, I hope that the student newspaper continues to fearlessly write and publish about this and other important stories affecting your campus community. You have my full support, and, more importantly, the law is on your side.

  19. As the coordinator of English and Journalism at Chaffey College, I am shocked and disheartened to read this. I hope the student journalists of PCC continue to publish their articles and uphold their legally protected rights.

  20. Is this what Mark Rocha means by “move forward”? I hope the Courier staff will redouble their efforts to accurately report on the conduct of the administration.

  21. The thuggish moves continue. Are these the desperate flailings of a drowning administration? One can sympathize with Rocha and the Board wanting to silence this award-winning student newspaper. Remember, it was the press that brought down President Nixon. Goodbye, Rocha–no matter how the paper annoys you, you’ve just violated the First Amendment!

  22. Hi

    WHAT is going on!?! That is on the lips of many of the faculty here at PCC. We are very concerned for our colleague, given what seems an uncanny and timely dismissal, immediately following the Courier’s valiant and comprehensive press coverage on the votes of no confidence, Senate meeting from last week and PCC’s candid voices across campus that things are just not right here at PCC.

    For a faculty member to be advising the Courier for 6 years straight, it must mean he’d been doing a fine job. Why all of a sudden dismissed, and what kind of faculty advisor will be taking on Swil’s duties for the Courier? Will the Courier continue to print the tough news stories that it’s been doing lately?

    Very disconcerted,

    1. Melissa, why do you defend an (alleged) sexual predator?

      Is it because there are so many more within the English department at PCC???

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