In a win for freedom of speech, an Orange Coast College (OCC) student in Costa Mesa, Calif., suspended after recording and sharing a video of an instructor’s remarks during class with college administration, was reinstated.
The brouhaha started in a class for a human sexuality course.
Freshman Caleb O’Neil got worried he might not be treated fairly when his instructor, Olga Perez Stable Cox, stated in class that she would “no longer tolerate any person who voted for Trump.”
“I pulled my phone out because, honestly, I was scared about repercussions about my grades. She knew I was Trump supporter,” O’Neil explained at a press conference.
The cell phone video, which went viral, shows Cox discussing the Trump election and his supporters in a class lecture on Nov. 15.
“Our nation is divided, we have been assaulted, it’s an act of terrorism,” she said. “One of the most frightening things for me and most of the people in my life is that the people creating the assault are among us.”
O’Neil, who feared the instructor would not tolerate him for supporting Trump and might retaliate by lowering his grade in the class, took the recording to the college president.
That didn’t help.
O’Neil was suspended from the summer term and a full semester on Feb. 9 in a letter sent by Interim Dean of Students, Victoria Lugo. He was also required to submit a written apology to the instructor, and write a three-page essay analyzing “the impact of the video going ‘viral’ and ensuing damage to Orange Coast College students, faculty and staff.”
Freedom X, O’Neil’s legal counsel, then filed a Notice of Appeal with the college arguing that his constitutional and legal rights have been violated.
On Feb 22, in a special meeting of the Coast Community College District Board of Trustees to discuss the litigation, the board agreed to lift the suspension.
“The board believes this is in the interest of fairness and equity for all,” they said in a statement released the following day.
“It is time to move forward with increased empathy and understanding of the differences that have and will exist on a campus filled with individuals from an array of backgrounds who bring with them a wide range of political views, religious affiliations and ideals.”