COSTA MESA, Calif. – A California community college reversed a suspension for a student who recorded his instructor’s rant comparing Donald Trump’s election win to “an act of terrorism.”
Orange Coast College officials initially suspended freshman Caleb O’Neil for two semesters and ordered him to write an apology letter and three-page essay about what he learned from recording sociology professor Olga Perez Stable Cox’s anti-Trump tirade in his human sexuality class, EAGnews reports.
The 66-year-old gay Latina instructor explained to students how Trump’s election victory amounts to “an act of terrorism” by white racists, including some of her students.
“We have been assaulted. It’s an act of terrorism,” she said. “One of the most frustrating things for me, and most people in my life, is that the people who are leading the assault are among us.”
Stable Cox referred to Trump as a “white supremacist” and called Vice President Mike Pence “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country,” O’Neil’s video shows.
She also allegedly asked Trump-supporting students to stand in class and mocked them as cowards when none took the bait.
Members of the College Republicans took the videos to school officials to demand action, and when none was forthcoming, posted the videos to YouTube. The result was a public backlash against Stable Cox, who went into hiding, as well as thousands of calls, letters and emails to the community college, The Orange County Register reports.
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College officials promised to look into the issue, then suspended O’Neil, who continued to attend classes as he appealed the decision.
The Coast Community College Board of Trustees held a special meeting Thursday “to bring closure” to controversy, which essentially meant they decided to call the whole thing a draw.
An official statement that reversed O’Neil’s initial suspension stated he “will continue to attend classes without interruption,” while Stable Cox will face no disciplinary action for her politically biased learning environment, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Without condoning the unlawful recording of a lecture, the student’s desire to voice his displeasure is understandable,” the statement read.
“The student in this case felt he could not freely share his political views in a classroom, which is why he felt his only recourse was to record a lecture he felt was unfair.
“The teacher in this case felt she was sharing her views and responding to a student who voiced concerns about the political climate. Without condoning what was said, the angst and distress she has felt, as hundreds of hateful and threatening messages were directed at her, is understandable,” it continued.
“It’s 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.”
O’Neil, 19, was elated by the outcome.
“I’m so happy. This is what I wanted – to continue in schools and row for the crew team. I love OCC,” he said.
O’Neil described Cox as a “good teacher” but was compelled to act because she “directly attacked” conservative students, he told the Los Angeles Times.
“I was scared I’d have repercussions on my grades because she knew I was a Trump supporter,” he said.