Student Newspaper Adviser Suspended for Alleged Sexual Harassment

During spring semester, I wrote about the sudden and mysterious suspension of Warren Swil, the adviser of the Courier campus newspaper at Pasadena City College.

As I posted at the time: PCC officials are saying it is due to an allegation of misconduct of some kind. But early press coverage indicates many students and faculty feel the case against Swil, also a PCC journalism professor, is built atop little more than vengeance. The school has been going through a rough patch lately, and the Courier has been doggedly covering it.

Now, roughly two months later, new information has emerged about the alleged misconduct. Reports indicate it is linked to a sexual harassment and grade retaliation claim and $100,000 lawsuit a PCC journalism student brought against Swil and the school.

The gist of the complaint, all events alleged: There was a private meeting between a male student and Swil. Swil showed nude photos of himself to the student. The student did not express joy about this. Swil was disappointed. His criticisms of the student’s work went up, and the grades he gave the student went down. The student suffered related emotional distress. Cue lawsuit.


As the Pasadena Sun reports in more detail, the student “alleges that Swil became unfairly critical of his submissions for the Courier after a January closed-door meeting during which the teacher showed [the student], who is gay, nude pictures of himself taken during a boating trip. Swil, who is also gay, twice ‘pointed to a picture of himself naked, smiled and asked [the student] what he thought about that picture,’ the claim reads. ‘When [the student] changed the subject a second time, Mr. Swil was visibly disappointed and acted as if he had not received the desired response to his provocative pictures.'”

The Courier further explains, “According to the complaint, before the alleged sexual advances, Swil regularly gave [the student] high scores on articles. But after the incident, he said Swil began giving below average marks on articles that other members of the staff, including the Courier editor in chief at the time, Nicholas Saul, found to be very well written.”

Swil has declined comment to the Courier and outside news media. PCC’s faculty union leader and union attorney separately told the Sun the student’s lawsuit is without merit and Swil’s suspension is a civil rights violation– and may be linked to his sexuality and the Courier’s past aggressive reporting about administrative troubles.


Student Newspaper Adviser Placed on Leave; Retaliation for Paper’s Gung-Ho Coverage?


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