Quaker Campus Muzzled, Humiliated; No New Online Editions /
Whittier College Fear of Artificial Turf Lawsuits Revealed

Quaker Campus Opinions Editor Marissa Leonardi's 'Potentially dangerous: Why risk any amount of possible lead in our new turf?' was published in the student newspaper's first issue of the 2008-2009 academic year. Marissa's Opinion was a singular act of journalistic integrity, given its context: advocating student and community best interests while an editor of a student paper with a history of free press violations perpetrated against the paper by the school administration. The administration's draconian reaction to Ms. Leonardi's reasonable questioning of one of the school's more consequential recent mistakes was swift and debilitating. Q C was muzzled and humiliated, and no 2008-2009 academic year issues of the paper have appeared online.

It was hoped that Quaker Campus' move from Whittier College's site to an independent site hosting many college newspapers online would put the student publication on its own footing, but clearly the Herzberger administration, no doubt counseled by Whittier College Trustee and attorney Ernie Z. Park - this case is vintage Ernie Park, it's his modus operandi - is out to destroy anything and anyone who questions decisions, addresses mistakes - because to people like Ernie Z. Park and Sharon D. Herzberger, this is translated as potential liability. It's this twisted thinking that seeks to keep mistakes, and their consequences, quiet, which prolongs and multiplies them, to evade responsibility, whereas rational people seek to get things right, to responsibly correct mistakes and remedy their consequences. It's the unconscionable practices of the Parks and Herzbergers of the world who drive the need for transparency and accountability - because their pre-emptive strikes do real damage to our morals, ethics, and to the law, which they use rather than respect, to our rights and even persons.

When a young female student is sexually assaulted, do you think that this administration seeks A) To get the victim immediate medical care and counseling, and assist in the collecting of evidence and the apprehension and prosecution of her assailant, or B) 'Persuade' the victim that she doesn't really want to have any "police involvement", that she wasn't really criminally assaulted, that she's perhaps overstating, and since she's overstating the case, no evidence has to be collected, no counseling is really needed, and, not to worry, the school will deal with the alleged assailant? The Whittier College Campus Safety office states that all recent sexual assault/rape victims that are admitted to by Campus Safety have "declined police involvement".

A good reputation is made and maintained by decent, honorable conduct, not the disgraceful misconduct and crimes carried out at and by Whittier College that can only end with this College's wheels coming off altogether.

The second Q C issue of 08-09 contained, on the front page (Marissa's Opinion only got page 2 billing), a "Correction", a correction or retraction whose authors knew it to be completely unwarranted for any free press, to constitute complete submission to an administration acting without any legal foundation whatsoever. Quaker Campus staff did not have to cave in to the administration, could've won in court, and they can still come forward and tell us what they were told by whom, how they were 'persuaded' by the administration to muzzle and humiliate themselves - when they were completely correct in publishing Marissa Leonardi's 'Potentially dangerous: Why risk any amount of lead in our new turf?' opinion. Nothing in Ms. Leonardi's opinion justified any such retraction. Indeed, the administration's overreaction spotlights the fact they're trying too hard to deny, that the artificial turf was installed after the health and safety and environmental hazards of the installation were made known to them, by whittiergate among others.

The 'Correction' published by Quaker Campus was limited to a legal point, which is obviously derivative of the administration's and Trustees' fear of lawsuits stemming from the artificial turf installation. The 'Correction' states that Marissa Leonardi "made inaccurate assumptions about the reasons Whittier College installed the Sprinturf Ultrablade DF synthetic turf.

"The assumptions suggested that Whittier College and Whittier College Athletics Department had deliberately ignored the well-being and health of their student-athletes and students. The article also wrongly assumes that the installation of the (artificial) turf was a "strictly economic decision."

"In the article", continues the 'Correction', "assumptions were stated incorrectly as fact. We retract these statements.

"The Quaker Campus apologizes for printing the inaccurate and potentially harmful assumptions."

This is what Marissa actually wrote: "This new synthetic turf seems to be a strictly economic decision..." "...seems to be..." No definitive statement of fact; no retraction warranted. Marissa Leonardi, Quaker Campus, you and me, Sharon and Ernie, everyone has the right to state his or her opinions, period; and no one has the right to interfere with the expression of opinions. The administration had no authority by which to demand any correction or retraction let alone any apology. Let's be clear, it's the artificial turf that's harmful, not a free press.

The crushing of the student press at Whittier College by its administration, yet again, continues to teach Whittier students that doing what those with power over you tell you to do, even when it's wrong, immoral, unethical, illegal, is the way you live life. Why do you think the Quakers quit funding this college they founded?

2002: An electronic eavesdropping device is accidentally discovered in Quaker Campus' editorial office, where there was an expectation of privacy, making the eavesdropping a felony. The Whittier P D detective assigned to investigate, who was previously employed by Whittier College Campus Safety, ends the investigation when it leads point to a former Campus Safety chief. Later, the Whittier P D denies there was ever any such case (in response to a Student Press Law Center inquiry). A local private detective states the obvious: the administration is at the top of the suspects list.

2004: An independent student publication, Liberty Bell, is crushed by the administration, which obstructs the publication and then threatens to have students arrested if they distribute their paper on campus.

2005: Quaker Campus refuses to print letters from faculty and community members about the academic cheating scandals taking place at Whittier, including the Barnstone-Heldman case and Jagessar v. Brown, both of which cases include terrorist threats and acts, death threats against and a shot fired at one of the individuals standing up for academic integrity, and two shots fired through the bedroom window of the child of one of the most popular profs on campus. Quaker Campus knowingly prints a libelous disinformation article planted by the administration related to the Jagessar v. Brown case.

2006 to Present: Quaker Campus has never mentioned whittiergate, not once.

2007-2008: Fait accompli. The administration sneaks in a rah rah promo about its artificial turf installation in the last Q C issue of the 07-08 academic year - when it's impossible for students to respond. It appears as though the administration tool, uh, student journalist, who betrayed journalistic standards, her fellow students, school and community, was rewarded for that betrayal by the administration.

2008: Fall Quaker Campus online editions never appear after crackdown on paper over an opinion questioning the decision to install health and safety and environmental hazard artificial turf on campus, which opinion the paper's compelled to retract in part.

Notice that Whittier College isn't denying the science cited by whittiergate and then Ms. Leonardi, that artificial turf is a health and safety and environmental hazard. What the administration has tried to do is pretend they didn't know the dangers of artificial turf before they installed it on campus. We've no doubt that it can be proven to the satisfaction of any court that Whittier College did in fact know the health and safety and environmental hazards posed to students - and the entire community - by artificial turf, before the installation was begun. And we are sure there will be successful lawsuits against Whittier College over the artificial turf installation.

Likewise, the legal actions against artificial turf reported by Marissa Leonardi are all accurate. The State of California has indeed brought a lawsuit against artificial turf makers. Norway, not so vulnerable to artificial turf industry lobbyists (and here their cozy relationships with understaffed regulatory agencies), has already banned synthetic turf.

Opinions Editor Leonardi indeed understated artificial turf's hazards. The second generation of artificial turf doesn't only shed lead added to keep the synthetic blades looking green, but also contains an infill mix of crumb rubber that releases numerous extremely dangerous pollutants, and silica, which can also cause cancer, scleroderma and silicosis.

The only mistakes by Marissa Leonardi are commonly made - based on fake grass salesmen's dishonest pitches - that artificial turf is cheaper than natural grass, and that pesticides aren't required. It turns out that artificial turf is more expensive than natural grass, and that pesticides are needed for artificial turf, along with algaecides, fungicides, bactericides, disinfectants, cleaning solvents, even fabric softener, and lots of water.

One wonders where were Athletic Department spokespersons, sciences faculty, anyone, to speak up for student and community interests, which certainly include freedom from exposure to artificial turf, beside whittiergate? What can be said about athletics administrators and coaches who valued only factors like the stadium looking sharp and using that to recruit new athletes, and gaining money by renting it out to the unaware for use by even younger kids, and for competitive advantage? Where was any concern for student-athletes?

Where were sciences faculty members? Profs didn't care enough about students or the community that sustains those profs' families to speak up about the obvious health and safety and environmental hazards posed to everyone? And so the last ditch Whittier recruiting line, we're a small school and our faculty really knows and cares about students, is revealed as just one more lie.

What installing artificial turf, in 2008, when professional and collegiate programs have been getting rid of the potentially lethal polluting fake grass, that also poses special injuries risks, and dehydration derivative and burn, and turf burn and MRSA and other infection, risks, indicates, when the artificial turf industry has, therefore, aggressively targeted relatively ignorant rec and parks districts, schools, and home owners, is that Whittier College is just plain dumb as the hills now posing an ever present fire danger to campus. Or did Whittier College decision-makers disregard artificial turf studies for other motives, that in their twisted minds were more important than the health and safety of college and even younger students and the entire community? We can't find a single component of Whittier College's development plan that makes sense. Or is there corruption, profit being wrongly made, here? Something is terribly wrong at Whittier College, and it needs to be corrected.

Injury rates will be higher on artificial turf. If you suffer an injury caused or made worse by the stadium natural grass being replaced by artificial turf, you know who's liable. If you suffer any dehydration derivative illness, if you're burned by artificial turf, you know who's liable. If you contract an infection through a turf burn, you know who's liable. If you suffer any of the symptoms of the range of illnesses caused by artificial turf pollution (see links below), now and/or in the future, then you know who's liable.

For pollution of soil and groundwater, for fouling the College's own nest, we know who's responsible. If you want the artificial turf removed and taken to a licensed hazardous waste site, which is where this synthetic turf has to be taken next, then make it so - you know who's responsible, who's liable.

According to Artificial Turf News, 46% of artificial turf installations have been vandalized, 36% have been repeatedly vandalized, only 18% haven't yet been vandalized. Hummers, fur coats, and other objectionable products are symbolically trashed. If anyone drops chewing gum on artificial turf, special solvents and cleaning tools are required to try to remove it, a caustic and labor intensive process. If anyone spray painted, say, the names of the pollutants issuing from or the illnesses caused by the installation, or abracadabra, holmes, on it, those words would never be gotten completely out. Artificial turf carpets have been cut, set on fire, have been attacked in many ways. There's no study of which we're aware that distinguishes artificial turf fields vandalism from a perception of acting in self-defense.

Whittier College's best decision now regarding the artificial turf installation would be to remove it to a licensed hazardous waste site as soon as possible, sue Sprinturf for misrepresenting the product, try to get money back, reinstall a natural grass field and this time properly install and maintain it; and simultaneously apologize to Marissa Leonardi and Quaker Campus and, more, thank them for helping make the College aware of student sentiment regarding the artificial turf mistake, so it can be removed before doing any more harm, and let Q C operate independently in print and online like a real college newspaper. And the administration might even try acting like a real college administration, not a bunch of corrupt thugs, for a change.

How long are the Trustees of Whittier College going to listen to Ernie Z. Park's consistently dishonorable, and ultimately too costly, deny we made a mistake and ham-handedly try to cover the mistake up, so-called legal advice? How long are the Trustees going to suffer Sharon Herzberger's unerring nose for the wrong side of every issue? How long are Whittier students, who're paying a lot of money to the College, going to continue allowing themselves to be poisoned, muzzled and humiliated, backed down by bullies who can be soundly beaten, and then, who knows, hopefully reformed?

Marissa Leonardi, our caps are off to you... You may have a lot to learn, but you have the rarest of faculties at Whittier College, a conscience. You go, girl...

'Synthetic Turfgrass Costs Far Exceed Natural Grass Playing Fields', University of Missouri:

Online Compendiums of Artificial Turf Health, Safety, Environmental, and Legal Problems:




See on this site Sharon Herzberger's Toxic Pen page for more information on artificial turf, and No Awards for Quaker Campus and California Court of Appeal Reversal Exposes Whittier College Misconduct and Crimes to Chill Protected Speech pages for more information on and links to more coverage of free press violations by Whittier College.


Quaker Campus is back online for the 2009-2010 academic year, the Whittier College administration evidently satisfied that student journalists have learned their lesson. One wonders how Whittier College can see and how students can accept selling out one's principles and the principles of free speech and petition rights and a free press as lessons that should be taught at a liberal arts college in a democratic society, but that's the way it is at Whittier College.

Since being back online, student journalists have bitten the administration a couple of times, over the unprecedented overcrowding in dorms - this academic year, storage, class, and lounge spaces have been converted into student 'rooms', an outrageous situation and certainly not what student families were led to believe students would get for their money - and over the on campus student health care debacle. (See Conflict of Interest Endangers Whittier College Students' Health)

Retaliation, censorship, was practically instantaneous: copies of a Quaker Campus print edition detailing the health care crisis created by the administration were 'disappeared' from the Weingart Hall (Admissions) foyer Q C distribution stand. And the paper didn't even bring up the conflict of interest posed by so many trustees past and present being connected to Presbyterian Inter-Community Hospital, the PIH Foundation, and its Auxillary.

Unfortunately, rather than strongly address the real issues, overcrowding and the health care crisis, and censorship by theft of a Q C edition, the student paper lost sight of the real issues at stake and were yet again duped by the administration. Instead of standing up for students, Quaker Campus yet again betrayed their classmates. Out of left field, a Q C Opinion let the administration off the hook for blatantly screwing students yet again, and tried to take President Herzberger on over the Lancer Society's Erotic City AKA Adam & Eve event, which Q C mistakenly assumed Sharon Herzberger opposes, as do virtually all decent people.

In reality (Earth calling Quaker Campus!), Sharon sees the damage done by Erotic City as an acceptable tradeoff for any kind of on campus event being staged. Face it: Whittier College is in the middle of nowhere and there's just nothing to do. Pretty much any kind of event, even one like Erotic City that demeans and endangers female students, is seen as a plus by the administration. The email from Sharon last year was not a condemnation of Erotic City by her, it was a CYA move by her in response to intense pressure from the on and off campus communities to end Erotic City.

Herzberger had the Lancers through Andre Coleman change the name of the Erotic City event to Adam & Eve and moved it back on campus. The specific name change was a jab at the mainstream community churches who were among those pressuring the College to end this embarrassing and dangerous event as well as to camoflage it, but young female students are much less endangered by the event being returned to campus. If Herzberger cared at all about students, she would show it by a number of actions, for example only allowing students with current student ID cards to enter this event. But if she really thought about this event it would be changed into a Halloween costume party. Sharon only cares in this respect about any social event for students and college-community relations, not student welfare - evidently just like Quaker Campus. Do you get it, Q C?

Whittier College not only pushed the Quaker Friends who founded the College out, the school even got rid of its Chaplain, who remains active in the Whittier community off campups. What Whittier College doesn't want to deal with is any truth, any sense of morality, any sense of ethics, any sense of law with a spirit as well as letter, any genuine concern for students, any voices of conscience.

So Quaker Campus, instead of championing student interests, let go of the horns and made themselves, yet again, victims and purveyors of BS, did just what the administration wanted them to do - forget the issues affecting students, in this instance housing and health, and champion an event the administration wants even though it's harmful to students, even if most students are so bored and desperate that they try to get excited about what would be an embarrassing event in any socially rich milieu. Sharon is too jaded to care about students, and campus student journalists, like campus student politicians, are evidently too scared, too dumb, or too selfish to care.

Real college journalists get the story: 'Post, UWM reach settlement in records lawsuit' by Kevin Lessmiller http://www.uwmpost.com

"It's a shame that this lesson had to be a costly one...but we hope that the university now appreciates that journalists are not going to sit back and accept illogical and legally unjustified secrecy without a fight," said Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center.

(The Student Press Law Center was willing to go to bat for Quaker Campus in 2002 when it was accidentally discovered that the paper's editorial office had been bugged, but Q C staff let the felony committed against a free press go. That should've been the biggest college story of the year nationally, and Whittier College could've begun to shake off the Coffin-Nixon Curse, but 2002 Q C staff had better things to do - but you sure can't discover what that was in the paper's archive for that academic year.)

'UWM student paper wins public records lawsuit' by Bruce Vielmetti for the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/84396512.html

Even high school journalists get the story - Court orders a $27,000 settlement and letters praising student journalists from Fallbrook Union H. S. District, Orange County! See 'Students Win Settlement in California Free Speech Case': http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/136344

Could Quaker Campus get a story if it was tripped over or handed to our 'student journalists'?

So Quaker Campus is back online, for whatever it may be worth. At least the Whittier College administration has admitted whittiergate exists, and that's more than Quaker Campus has been up to. Which is worse, an administration that plants disinformation articles in a student paper, or a student paper that prints that disinformation? One thing is certain: If Quaker Campus was a real student newspaper run by bright, honest, student journalists, whittiergate.com would never have been necessary.

Check out <the quakercampus.com>, and see/ for yourself...

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