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Whittier College Investigation Reveals False Claims, Conflicts of Interest, and Plagiarism

Updated: May 17, 2023


Introduction:


In a recent investigation conducted by Whittier 360, it has been uncovered that Whittier College, under the leadership of President Linda Oubre, is experiencing financial difficulties. Oubre has attributed these financial challenges solely to the impact of Covid-19 and has further alleged a conspiracy of white supremacy at the college. However, our investigation has found these claims to be false. In fact, Whittier College, which was founded by Quakers known for their principles of equality and social justice, had a more diverse student population and greater enrollment before Oubre assumed her position. Additionally, there is evidence contradicting Oubre's claims of ongoing police investigations into racial hate crimes on campus. The allegations made by Oubre and her supporters on the Board of Trustees have been found to be defamatory and lacking evidence. These findings raise concerns about the leadership of Whittier College and the potential infringement on individuals' First Amendment rights.


Financial Challenges and False Diversity Claims:


Whittier College is facing financial difficulties, as revealed in our investigation. President Linda Oubre has attributed these challenges exclusively to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and has also made claims of a conspiracy of white supremacy. However, our investigation found that the college's financial troubles cannot be solely attributed to Covid-19, as Whittier College had a more diverse student body and higher enrollment prior to Oubre's tenure. These findings cast doubt on Oubre's explanation for the college's financial struggles and raise questions about her leadership.


False Claims of Police Investigations and Hate Crimes:


Oubre's claims of ongoing police investigations into racial hate crimes on the Whittier College campus have been found to be false. Despite her assertions, no law enforcement agency has confirmed the existence of any such investigations during Oubre's five-year tenure as president. Our investigation reveals that Oubre and her supporters on the Board of Trustees defamed and slandered members of the Save Whittier College group. These false allegations of racism and hate crimes were intended to gain sympathy and support for Oubre, but they lack evidence to substantiate them. The absence of any law enforcement support for these claims raises serious concerns about their validity and suggests they may have been propagated for political purposes.

Oubre's supporters have alleged that her actions, including the use of SLAPP lawsuits, were necessary due to death threats targeting her because of her race and the prevalence of hate crimes on the Whittier College campus. However, our investigation has found these claims to be false. The primary reason for this determination is the lack of any reported incidents. Neither the Whittier Police Department nor the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have corroborated Oubre's claims of ongoing police investigations into hate crimes or threats against her, the college, or its alumni. Both law enforcement agencies have confirmed that no such investigations were taking place. These findings cast doubt on the validity of the claims made by Oubre's supporters and raise questions about their motivations.

It is important to clarify the jurisdiction for investigating crimes that occur on the Whittier College campus. In cases where serious crimes such as murder, rape, stalking, auto burglary, and alleged hate crimes are involved, the primary authority for investigation lies with the Whittier Police Department. As a law enforcement agency, they have the responsibility and expertise to handle such cases within their jurisdiction.

While Whittier College may have its own security personnel or campus police, their authority is often limited to enforcing campus policies and addressing minor infractions. Serious criminal offenses fall under the purview of the local law enforcement agency, which, in this case, is the Whittier Police Department.

Therefore, when assessing the validity of claims regarding crimes or investigations on the Whittier College campus, it is crucial to consider the statements from the appropriate law enforcement authorities. In this investigation, both the Whittier Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department have confirmed that they have not been conducting investigations into hate crimes or threats related to Whittier College, its president, or its alumni.

This clarification emphasizes the significance of relying on the appropriate jurisdiction when evaluating allegations of crimes and ensures that accurate information is provided regarding the investigative processes in place.


In addition to the aforementioned issues, it is crucial to address the legal implications surrounding campus security and hate crime allegations. The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, commonly known as the Clery Act, is a federal law that mandates colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to disclose information about crime on and near their campuses. The United States Department of Education monitors compliance with this act and has the authority to impose civil penalties and suspend institutions from participating in federal student financial aid programs in case of violations. The Clery Act's aim is to ensure transparency and accountability regarding campus crime policy and statistics.

Considering the seriousness of hate crimes, we have called upon the Justice Department to investigate whether the allegations of hate crimes at Whittier College have any merit. While hate crimes demand utmost attention and action, it is equally important to recognize that falsely accusing individuals of such crimes is a serious federal offense. The consequences of baseless allegations can be detrimental and undermine the integrity of both the accused individuals and the credibility of the college.



First Amendment Infringement and SLAPP Lawsuits:


Our investigation uncovered attempts by President Oubre and the Whittier College Board of Trustees to silence critics through the use of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Individual members of the Save Whittier College group were threatened with legal action in an effort to deter them from exercising their First Amendment right to criticize the college's leadership. These SLAPP letters, as revealed in correspondence between the two sides' attorneys, aimed to suppress dissent and undermine the free speech rights of American citizens. Such actions are highly concerning and raise questions about the respect for constitutional rights within Whittier College's administration and governance.

In contrast to the allegations made by Oubre and her administration, our investigation reveals that while Oubre told media outlets she supported free speech and the right of her opponents to criticize her, her administration had engaged in slander and defamation against the Save Whittier College group and its members. False accusations of racism and racially motivated intimidation and violence have been leveled against this group, causing harm to their reputations. These statements were made by Oubre and members of the Board of Trustees to the media, further exacerbating the impact of these false claims. Statements from the Whittier Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirm that they had not received any complaints regarding these alleged crimes and were not conducting any investigations at Whittier College. This evidence suggests that the accusations made against the Save Whittier College group were baseless and intended to silence criticism rather than address legitimate concerns.

One alumni who received a SLAPP threat was Elizabeth Power Robinson. In the SLAPP letter to Mrs. Robinson, the Board of Trustee's legal team wrote, "The present circumstances make clear that your motives for seeking this information is with the obvious intent to cast Whittier and President Oubre in a negative and false light and to disparage them by disseminating false information to third parties. Moreover, it appears clear from the circumstances that you have animus toward President Oubre and certain members of the senior leadership of the College." The letter was in response to Mrs. Robinson's request for information. It was also an attempt to bully her for having the audacity to ask for information. In another letter the Board Of Trustee's legal team wrote "It has come to the Board’s attention that you have recently posted derogatory, misleading, and negative statements regarding Whittier College (“the College”) and President Linda Oubre. These statements serve no legitimate purpose and are solely intended to create a hostile work environment for President Oubre and to undermine her authority and position. It appears your aim is to discredit President Oubre and to create an atmosphere that causes her to resign. The Board stands by President Oubre and her leadership of the College. The Board will not be bullied by you and others with whom you are working." Based on our findings it appears that Linda Oubre, the Board of Trustees, and Whittier College owe Elizabeth Power Robinson an apology because they bullied her, threatened her, and then tried to slander and defame her.

There are a few things to point out with these comments by the Board of Trustees. The first amendment actually protects the right of all American citizens to make insulting, offensive, and derogatory stuff about people online. It also protects your right to say negative things about people. But you do have to make sure that what you are saying is true if you are reaching a broad audience that could impact their livelihood. Your right to freedom of speech is not dependent on your speech "serving a legitimate purpose". You do have a constitutionally protected right to use your free speech to discredit or undermine community leaders or other political leaders that you believe should not be in positions of leadership as long as you are speaking the truth. Readers can find the SLAPP letters and Robinson's responses to them here: https://savewhittiercollege.com/home-2/cease-desist-letters/



Hostile Work Environment and Fear of Speaking Out:


In addition to the previously mentioned issues, Whittier 360's investigation has uncovered evidence of a hostile work environment within Whittier College. Several faculty members have expressed fear and reluctance to speak openly about the matters the college is facing. This atmosphere of fear and intimidation undermines the principles of academic freedom, open dialogue, and constructive criticism that are essential for a thriving educational institution.

Faculty members play a crucial role in the success of any college, and their perspectives and expertise are vital for addressing challenges and implementing positive changes. However, when faculty members feel stifled and fearful of repercussions for speaking out, it hampers their ability to contribute effectively to the betterment of the college.

A healthy work environment encourages open communication, respectful dialogue, and the free exchange of ideas. It fosters an atmosphere where faculty members can voice their concerns, offer constructive feedback, and engage in meaningful discussions to find solutions to the challenges faced by the institution. However, the presence of a hostile work environment creates a climate of fear, silencing dissenting voices and hindering the college's ability to address issues effectively.


Board of Trustees Conflicts of Interest:


Expanding the investigation to the Whittier College Board of Trustees has revealed significant conflicts of interest and questionable qualifications among its members. It appears that many original board members were either removed or pressured to resign during President Linda Oubre's tenure, making room for her close friends and associates, some of whom lacked prior connections to the college or the education industry.

Yvonne Romero da Silva, appointed as Board Secretary, resides and works in Houston, Texas, as the Vice President for Enrollment at Rice University. Her only connection to Whittier College is through her long-time friendship with Linda Oubre. This appointment raises questions about the basis for her involvement in the college's governance and decision-making processes.

Kenya Williams, the Interim Board President. The precise nature of her relationship to Mrs. Oubre is unknown. While she is a graduate of Whittier Law School, there is no indication of any prior connection between Williams and Whittier College before Oubre's appointment as College President.

Tim Yamauchi's profile states his affiliation with Whittier but does not specify in what capacity. The term "Whittier native" is typically reserved for individuals born and raised in Whittier. Further investigation is required to determine Yamauchi's background and qualifications, as his primary experience seems to lie in corporate turnarounds and investments.

Christina Bouchot, wife of former Whittier hyperpartisan City Councilmember Henry Bouchot, is an attorney who appears to work as an employment consultant. Her expertise lies in representing companies, particularly in technology and private equity sectors. There is no prior indication of her experience in higher education or any previous connection to Whittier College.

Michael L. Brown's information remains unavailable, limiting the assessment of his qualifications and potential conflicts of interest.

Erin Clancy, a Whittier College graduate and Oubre supporter, holds a position at Facebook as a public policy manager. Her experience primarily lies in policy and foreign affairs, with no prior experience in college administration or student recruitment. Her active involvement in partisan politics raises questions about potential biases and conflicts of interest.

Yukiyasu Hayashi, another Board member appointed at Oubre's request, lacks experience in higher education or student recruitment. His background is primarily in scientific research and development, and his connection to Whittier College seems to stem solely from his association with Oubre and her supporters.

Matt Knight, who worked alongside Oubre at Times Mirror Company, has expertise in corporate investment strategy. However, there is no evidence of prior experience in running a college or any prior connection to Whittier College. His appointment was directly influenced by Mrs. Oubre.

Richard Lichtenstein's connection to Whittier College is through his son's graduation from the institution, and his experience lies in political and public policy strategy rather than higher education or student recruitment.

Francisco Rodriguez, while having extensive experience in higher education, had no prior connection to Whittier College before his appointment at Oubre's request.

Miguel Santana, a strong supporter of Oubre on the Board, has been involved in threatening opponents of Oubre's administration with SLAPP lawsuits. Notably, Santana is a Whittier College graduate.

Stephanie Wiggins, a Board member, is the CEO of Metro, the organization responsible for the controversial Goldline Extension project. While her connection to Whittier College predates Oubre's tenure as a graduate, her involvement raises questions about potential conflicts of interest given her significant role in overseeing the project.

These findings highlight concerns regarding the qualifications, independence, and potential conflicts of interest within the Whittier College Board of Trustees. It is crucial to address these issues to ensure transparent and effective governance within the college.

Based on these, and the allegations in the previous section, we recommend the removing nearly the entire board except those who have no connection to Linda Oubre.










https://savewhittiercollege.com/home-2/news/board-votes-to-suspend-two-long-serving-trustees/





Falsehoods & Plagiarism:


During her tenure, Linda Oubre has made false statements and engaged in questionable actions that raise concerns about her credibility and integrity. One such claim is her repeated assertion that the Board of Trustees reflects the demographics of America. However, upon comparing the current demographics of the Board to the actual demographics of the United States, based on data reported by the US Census, this claim has been found to be false. For example, while Whites constitute approximately 70% of the US population, they represent only 2 out of 17 members on the Whittier College Board of Trustees, accounting for merely 11% of the Board. It is crucial to highlight that Oubre has orchestrated the forced departure of numerous Board members under unclear circumstances and replaced them with her close friends, confidants, and supporters, creating a significant conflict of interest. Her involvement in their appointments puts the Board members in an awkward position.

Additionally, Oubre has been found to have made false statements in April to the Whittier Daily News, LA Times, and other mainstream media outlets, when they were covering articles about the college's challenges. The extent of these false statements was discovered when investigating her decision to unilaterally shut down the college's athletics programs. Furthermore, it has been revealed that Oubre committed blatant plagiarism by using material from a 2019 Forbes magazine article without proper attribution. The Decline Of Football Is Real And It’s Accelerating (forbes.com) This act potentially exposes her to legal action for copyright infringement and may hold Whittier College liable for her violation of US copyright laws. Moreover, when subjecting Oubre's 2023 State of the College Speech to multiple online plagiarism detectors, all of them indicated a high level of plagiarism. While it is important to acknowledge that these applications are relatively new and can make mistakes, having multiple detectors flagging plagiarism in the State of the College speech raises serious concerns about Oubre's academic integrity.

These findings not only call into question the veracity of Oubre's statements but also raise concerns about her adherence to ethical standards and respect for intellectual property rights. The college may face legal and reputational implications due to Oubre's actions. Such conduct undermines the credibility and trust that should be upheld by a college president, and it necessitates a thorough examination of Oubre's leadership and decision-making.






Responses From Alumni and Local Community:


One of Whittier's community leaders, David Gonzalez reponded to the allegations of police investigations at Whittier College during a February event at Penn Park, "The other thing that I think is very important to remember that it is never, ever, ever appropriate to misspeak in writing about an institution as important as the police department. To invoke the name of the people who are supposed to be protecting us to protect us for any reason other than what they're there for. When it's in writing, it's in writing." https://savewhittiercollege.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/transcript_save-whittier-college-response-to-state-of-the-college_2-18-2023-1.pdf

Alumni Keristofer Seryani also responded to the false claims, "when the president of a college comes out and says there are threats we take that seriously. When they go out and try to cancel meetings and gaslight us, we take that seriously".

Alumni Jonathan Collard said, " in many respects as we have been doing since we have aligned this to make sure we're also combating the misinformation and providing, really, the perspective and the truth behind what is very clearly a misrepresentation of a lot of the disingenuous leadership and facts that are going on right now under the Oubre administration."



Conclusion:


The investigation conducted by Whittier 360 has shed light on a series of concerning issues surrounding Whittier College and its leadership under President Linda Oubre. It has been revealed that Oubre's claims of financial challenges solely due to the impact of Covid-19 and a conspiracy of white supremacy are false. The college's financial struggles cannot be attributed solely to the pandemic, and the diversity of the student population was greater before Oubre assumed her position. Furthermore, Oubre's allegations of ongoing police investigations into racial hate crimes on campus have been debunked, as no law enforcement agency has confirmed their existence during Oubre's tenure.

The investigation has also exposed attempts by Oubre and the Whittier College Board of Trustees to silence critics through the use of SLAPP lawsuits, targeting individuals who exercise their First Amendment right to criticize the college's leadership. These actions infringe upon free speech rights and raise questions about the respect for constitutional rights within the college's administration.

Conflicts of interest and questionable qualifications among the Board of Trustees members have also been identified, casting doubt on the transparency and effectiveness of the college's governance. The investigation recommends a significant reshuffling of the Board, removing those with close connections to Oubre to ensure independent and qualified representation.

Additionally, Oubre has been found to have made false statements and engaged in plagiarism, which raises concerns about her credibility, integrity, and adherence to ethical standards. These actions have legal and reputational implications for both Oubre and Whittier College.

Responses from alumni and the local community reflect a growing dissatisfaction with the college's leadership and a demand for accountability and transparency. The allegations made by Oubre and her administration have been met with skepticism and calls for the truth to be revealed.

It is important to note that both Oubre, the Whittier College Board of Trustees, and all other interested parties had a period of six months to respond to and rebut the accusations made against them in this article series. As with previous articles, we extend an open invitation to Oubre, the Board of Trustees, and all others involved to reach out and correct the record if they believe any information presented here is incorrect or misunderstood.

These allegations are serious in nature, and the reporting has been based on the information available. The purpose of this investigation is to uncover the truth and provide accurate reporting to the public. If there is additional information or perspectives on these matters, it is crucial that it is shared with the public to ensure accuracy and fairness in reporting.




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