Student suspended for recording 'act of terrorism' prof
The student who filmed his professor calling Donald Trump’s election “an act of terrorism” has received a one-semester suspension from Orange Coast College (OCC).
The previously anonymous student, Caleb O’Neil, has also received a number of other sanctions for recording his professor, Olga Pere Stable-Cox, including a mandatory meeting with the Dean of Students before he is readmitted, as well as remaining on disciplinary probation for one semester upon return from suspension.
"We haven’t backed down yet, and we won’t back down now."
Additionally, O’Neil must write an apology letter to professor as well as a three-page, double spaced essay discussing why he videotaped the professor despite “knowing that it was a violation of the course syllabus;” his “thoughts and analysis” on why he shared the video with others; what he thought would happen to Stable-Cox; the video’s impact “and ensuing damage to Orange Coast College students, faculty, and staff;” “other choices [he] could have made to resolve the situation;” and “[how he] will prevent this from happening again in the future.”
If O’Neil, who is not a member of the OCC College Republicans, fails to satisfy any of the requirements laid out by OCC, he could be expelled from the Coast Community College District for good.
The email, sent by Interim Dean of Students Victoria Lugo, charged O’Neil with violating Student Code of Conduct against tape recording and unauthorized use of electronic devices in the classroom.
“Unauthorized recording is a serious violation of the Student Code of Conduct,” Lugo wrote. “This is clearly stated in the instructor’s course syllabus in addition to the student code of conduct. When we spoke, you stated that you felt badly about the things that had happened to individuals as a result of this incident. It is my hope that this experience will lead you to truly think through your actions and the consequences of those actions when making decisions in the future. As we discussed, the conduct process is part of the overall college learning process and I do believe that valuable lessons have been gained from this experience.”
O’Neil has seven days from the reception of the letter, dated February 9, to appeal. If he chooses to do so, his sanctions will be “deferred until the outcome of [the] appeal is determined.” A hearing scheduled by the College Disciplinary Officer, or designee, will take place between 10 and 30 days later.
Joshua Recalde-Martinez, President Emeritus of OCC College Republicans, told Campus Reform that they were “very surprised and shocked,” when they heard about the email O’Neil received.
“Even I myself could pretty easily violate the electronic device recording statute. Anyone who uses their phone in class is automatically violating that portion of the student code of conduct,” Recalde-Martinez argued.
In response to the tape recording charge, Recalde-Martinez and the club’s lawyers insist that “there is simply no clause in the [student conduct code] beyond using a tape recording device.”
“As soon as that happened we immediately began working with our lawyers in order to combat the actions that the school has taken against the student,” Recalde-Martinez said.
Caleb O’Neil is being represented by Bill Becker, founder and President of FreedomX, a law firm that protects conservative and religious freedom of expression. O’Neil and Becker will appear together on Wednesday, February 15th at 1:00PM for a press conference at the school, and also plan to file a notice of appeal with the OCC.
In an email from FreedomX, Bill Becker declared the school’s actions "an attack by leftists in academia to protect the expressive rights of their radical instructors at the expense of the expressive rights of conservative students on campus.”
“He was in fear of retaliation by his instructor after she launched into a half-hour rant in which she labeled Trump a ‘white supremacist’ and told the class she would no longer tolerate any person who voted for Trump,” the email continued. “O'Neil videotaped the rant over concerns that his grade might be lowered for the class because of his outward show of support for Trump. He intended to use the video to present to the administration as evidence of his concerns.”
O’Neill and the College Republicans seem uncowed.
“OCC can’t continue its persecution of its students and their constitutional rights,” Recalde-Martinez stated. “We haven’t backed down yet, and we won’t back down now.”
Campus Reform reached out to Orange Coast College but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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