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Suspended PCC newspaper advisor speaks about tensions at college

Tensions are high between the administration of Pasadena City College and its faculty and student body.
Tensions are high between the administration of Pasadena City College and its faculty and student body.
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Many students and faculty at Pasadena City College have accused the administration of putting the advisor of the college newspaper on leave for covering ongoing tensions between top leaders, faculty, and students.

The advisor, Warren Swil, spoke for the first time publicly on Wednesday.

“This entire situation is enormously stressful," he said during a telephone interview from his Pasadena home. "I have been placed under medical supervision."

Swil guided the college newspaper’s coverage last month of no-confidence votes by students and faculty against campus president Mark Rocha. They are up in arms over Rocha’s cancellation of this winter’s classes. Two weeks after the votes and the newspaper stories the administration put Swil on leave last week while investigating a complaint against him.

Officials said they can't discuss the details of the complaint -- they say it's a personnel matter. Swil said the school won't let him say what it's about.

“I have been prohibited from discussing district business with any person according to my official notice from the district,” Swil said.

Pasadena City College denied this week that Swil’s leave is retaliation. The college’s faculty union believes it is and is helping his legal defense.

In a statement, PCC Vice President Robert Bell said the college wouldn’t interfere with the publication of the student newspaper.

“It is the formal policy of the college for the administration not to have any role in the reporting, editing, or publishing of the Courier,” Bell said.

Cancellation of winter classes led to loud protests from students who complained it would derail their college transfer plans. Faculty members said they weren’t consulted on the move. The Courier student newspaper will continue to report on the effects at the 19,000 student campus.

“I am grieving for my students," Swil said. "They are at the vortex of a whirlwind. They are terrific aspiring journalists who do not deserve this crisis.”

CORRECTION:  A previous version of this story attributed to Swil that the Courier would continue to cover campus tensions. He did not say this. We regret the error.