I Choose to Take Legal Action Against Discrimination. I am not a Refugee. I am an American Revolutionary.
Statement on Clarkson University Hostility Toward Cancer Prevention Truth-Donald L. Hassig, Director Cancer Action NY, 10/31/12
For over two decades, I have endeavored to build a positive relationship with Clarkson University. My purpose in attempting to do so was to establish a joint educational outreach on the subject of pollutant carcinogen exposure minimization directed to the campus community. Early on in this endeavor, I became aware of a very palpable hostility toward the message that exposure to chemical carcinogens causes cancer.
I experienced nothing other than shunning when diligently working to contact Clarkson University professors and administrators to initiate a dialogue on pollutant carcinogen exposure minimization education. The following people never returned a telephone call, despite repeated efforts to contact them by telephone: Dr. Allan Rossner, Chair of the Environmental Science Department; Dr. Thomas Holsen, Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Dr. Kurt Stimeling, Dean of Students. The following people returned telephone calls with great reluctance: Kelly Chezum, Office of Community Relations; and Dr. Michelle Crimi, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science. Neither Ms. Chezum, nor Ms. Crimi demonstrated any good intention in the few words that passed between us. Dr. Andrea Ferro, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science was willing to speak substantively on the subject of dioxin exposure cancer risk. She gave me the opportunity to make a presentation to her graduate students on the subject of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s draft 2003 dioxin reassessment. The graduate students demonstrated considerable interest in the matter of utilizing scientific knowledge on the subjects of dioxin exposure and cancer risk to minimize the quantity of harm imposed by dioxin exposure for the general population. These students expressed their belief that educational outreach to children was key to success in an effort to minimize harm. I made repeated requests to speak to other groups of students but Dr. Ferro has never agreed to another presentation.
Considering the lack of cooperation from Clarkson University professors and administrators, I set about conducting an educational outreach to students on my own. I sought out the leaders of the Eco Club. I contacted Tracy Roux, president of this student organization and requested the opportunity to make a presentation on the subject of pollutant carcinogen exposure reduction education to the her group. Ms. Roux was open to this offer. Lewis M. Shepard and I visited the campus and gave a brief presentation for Ms. Roux and one or two other club members. I followed up with efforts to build a relationship with the Eco Club and met with no willingness to interact. Cancer Action NY has not obtained the opportunity to make any more presentations to the Clarkson University campus community.
Having exhausted all efforts to obtain invitations to give presentations on the subject of cancer prevention focusing on reducing exposure to chemical carcinogens, I decided to start giving impromptu performances of environmental dance and spoken word on this subject on the Clarkson University campus. I chose the Student Activities Center because it was a place where students were present in large numbers and where they were not immersed in educational activities. Lewis M. Shepard and I made several visits to the Student Activities Center and succeeded in making contact with a considerable number of students. We spoke to students and handed out pamphlets. I also visited the Student Activities Center alone. On one of these solo visits, I was approached by an officer of the Safety and Security Office and asked to leave the campus. The officer stated that he had received a complaint from a student. I tried to explain my purpose in giving the environmental dance and spoken word performances, but he was very rude and uncivil and demanded that I immediately leave the campus. I left of my own choice. Potsdam Village Police were summoned by the security officer. I spoke with a police officer briefly in the parking lot where my car was parked and then left the campus. I contacted Safety and Security Chief David Delisle and complained about the bad behavior of the security officer. He stated that he would deal with it.
I have encountered a considerable amount of negativity in response to my work as an environmental protection activist in the North Country region of New York State. This is largely due to the particular focus of this work, which is the pollutants of major significance in cancer causation in the region. The industial entities that have contaminated the St. Lawrence River Valley with PCBs, mercury and other pollutant toxicants are strongly opposed to public education on the subject of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure minimization. This is due to several issues, including: potential litigation, clean-up costs and shame. Additionally, the beef and dairy producers of the region have to some limited degree sought to repress the dissemination of scientific knowledge on the subjects of POPs exposure, health effects and exposure minimization. Exposure minimization is largely a matter of minimizing consumption of animal fats. Some of the beef and dairy producers are more concerned about maintaining their sales of animal fat containing foods than public health protection.
Clarkson University is a respected part of the North Country. I am happy to have the use of Clarkson library computers and printers for producing public educational documents. However, I am not happy with being treated unfairly when it comes to the posting of documents on the campus. I have encountered significant unfairness in my endeavors to post disease prevention documents on the Clarkson University campus. This unfairness is best summarized as follows. I place documents in places where others place documents. My documents are taken down. I eventually speak with Safety and Security personnel and am advised that I need permission to post documents on the campus. I make a diligent effort to communicate with Kelly Chezum, the person that has the authority to grant this permission. Ms. Chezum refuses to communicate.
On Sunday, October 28, 2012 during a visit to the Clarkson University library to print cancer prevention educational materials, I encountered an experience that has caused me to conclude that it is time to take strong action to bring an end to the discriminatory acts that I have endured at Clarkson. I had finished with the printing work and was washing my hands in the restroom at approximately 9:00 PM. I heard someone enter the restroom and I felt concerned when the person walked up very close to me. I looked up and saw a uniformed security officer. This person was glaring at me. He spoke loudly and with much aggression in his voice. He said, “Mr. Hassig, what are you doing here?” He went on to state that I had been provided with a persona non grata letter and he questioned why I would come onto the campus after having received such a letter. The hostility in his eyes, voice and body language caused me to feel a slight quantity of fear. I pushed this emotion away and started into defending myself. I stated that I was present on the campus to print cancer prevention educational materials as I was free to do. I stated that I had not received a persona non grata letter. I stated that I would leave the campus after I was done washing my hands and collecting my copies from the library. This security officer then left the restroom. When I came out into the main lobby of the library complex, he was waiting there with another security officer. I walked over to them and stated that I disapproved of his aggressive behavior. He stated that he had not been aggressive in a very much less than genuine way.
I went into the library, got my copies and proceeded to leave the building. The offending officer walked up to me very close and began accompanying me down the hallway to the exit. I had had enough of his bad behavior by this time. I pointed to a large banner display promoting the Environmental Health Sciences Program at Clarkson and stated that this was a “lie”. I explained that the deception lay in having no real interest in protecting human health, the program’s purpose being to provide corporations with employees who would fit into the industrial culture of careless chemical use. The bad security officer stated that I must keep going and he threatened me with possible arrest.
As soon as I got outdoors, I felt much more free to act in my full defense. I walked quickly to my vehicle and shouted “Viva the Revolution”. I got in the vehicle, rolled down the window and told the officer to frack himself. As I drove off this campus where I had experienced so much discrimination for so long, I felt a great amount of freedom in bringing an end to the whole bad relationship. I was not surprised when Safety and Security Chief David Delisle refused to believe that one of his officers would behave as described above. I was not surprised when I received a persona non grata letter from Mr. Delisle on 10/30/12. The letter stated that I had become aggressive as soon as the officer asked me what I was doing on the campus. There was no mention of the bad behavior of the officer. Mr. Delisle and Mr. Duquette, the bad behaving security officer had fabricated a story that made them look good. These people are so good at lying.
I have decided to crack this wall of resistance to good change. Certain other matters of significance to my place in the North Country community have reached a point where I find it necessary to file a federal civil rights suit. I am going to name Clarkson University in that suit. It is illegal to discriminate against a person because of that person’s creed. There are several powerful entities in the North Country that have discriminated against me because of my creed. I have now settled upon commencing an anti-discrimination lawsuit naming Clarkson University, the Johnson Newspaper Corporation and the Hearst Corporation. Despite the fact that there is little justice in the courts of America, there is the wonderful outcome of having the opportunity to question the defendants in a federal courtroom. I look forward with much excitement to the days when I will be asking the hard questions of Mr. Delisle and others who discriminate at Clarkson University. Asking the hard questions of Robert Gorman and Brian Amaral of the Johnson Newspapers Corporation and Casey Seiler of the Hearst Corporation in the Albany Federal Courthouse will be so exhilarating.