The press rolls on
PCC calls on former Courier adviser to take over as Swil investigation continues
By André Coleman 04/04/2013
Retired journalism faculty adviser Mikki Bolliger will return to her old job with the Pasadena City College Courier on an interim basis while campus officials continue investigating an unspecified misconduct complaint filed by a student against Assistant Professor Warren Swil, the campus newspaper’s current adviser.
News of the complaint came days after the Courier published stories critical of PCC President Mark Rocha and his administration. Rocha has been the subject of two no-confidence votes, one taken by the PCC Associated Students and the other by an ad hoc faculty committee.
Top administrators say the action taken against Swil has nothing to do with the critical tone of the newspaper stories produced under his watch.
“Misplaced speculation surrounding this matter can be disruptive to the integrity of the investigative process and may have an effect on others who might wish to come forward,” Dr. Robert Bell, assistant superintendent and senior vice president of academic and student affairs at PCC, wrote in a memo distributed campus-wide Monday. “I ask that everyone respect the privacy and rights of the individuals involved, and to allow the investigation into the complaint against Professor Swil to come to its conclusion without further conjectures.”
According to the Courier Web site, Rocha said at a noon press conference that student reporters were leaving out of their stories some of the positive things being done by his administration. Swil was placed on administrative leave last Thursday, a day after the press conference.
In his memo, Bell stated that “all normal operations and publication of the newspaper will continue,” and that “The Board of Trustees, the superintendent/president, the administration and I all fervently support freedom of the press and academic freedom at PCC. 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. Nor will the administration ever have a role other than to fund and support the free, unfettered operation of this important, award-winning educational program and news service to the PCC community.”
“The sense on campus has been the paper has been doing some heavy-duty reporting,” said Bolliger, who retired in 2007. Bolliger said she would not advise the students to curb coverage of the administration.
“My instruction will be to bend over backwards to be fair in every story, particularly this one, because they will be criticized for whatever they do,” Bolliger said.