A California college professor who had one of the more notorious classroom meltdowns following the election of now-President Donald Trump last November has been honored with a Faculty of the Year award, an honor she has declined.
After a student surreptitiously recorded Orange Coast College human-sexuality professor Olga Perez Stable Cox calling Trump a “white supremacist” and his election “an act of terrorism,” his video went viral, sparking a nationwide debate about how much political commentary is appropriate in the classroom.
Caleb O’Neil, the student who videotaped Cox’s rant, shared the recording with the Orange Coast College Republicans club’s president, Joshua Recalde-Martinez, who posted it online. OCC announced it would suspend O’Neil in February for violating rules against recording class discussions without permission, but after the 19-year-old filed an appeal and threatened to sue, the board of trustees announced it would cancel the punishment.
The university had originally planned to suspend O’Neil until at least the fall of 2017, also putting him on disciplinary probation and requiring him to write a letter of apology to Olga Perez-Stable Cox, the professor he recorded. But after convening a special meeting, the board of trustees voted Wednesday to lift O’Neil’s punishment, also saying they would not take action against Cox.
Now the college wants to honor the professor who called Trump’s election “an act of terrorism” with a prestigious award.
Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times that Cox was notified of the award last week, “but she declined to accept and did not want to participate in related activities.”
The annual honor is typically received during a public ceremony, and the winner addresses the graduating class during commencement.
The Costa Mesa college didn’t make a formal announcement about Cox winning the award, Bennett said, but students heard rumors about her nomination and began sharing information on Facebook.
OCC’s Professional Development Committee chooses the winner of the award. The committee consists of faculty members, classified staff and past recipients of the award.
Any student or faculty member can recommend a member of the faculty for the honor. The committee then gives nominees credit for their involvement on campus and evaluates their methods of teaching.
The committee does not plan to select another recipient for this year’s award, Bennett said.
“She’s never had a complaint lodged against her by a student,” said Rob Schneiderman, president of the Coast Federation of Educators, a local branch of the national union the American Federation of Teachers.
But Recalde-Martinez told Fox News Wednesday evening that following Cox’s rant last November, the OCC Republicans club requested a letter of apology from her, that she attend an anger management class, and that their formal complaint against her be filed so it would be on her personnel record. Those requests have apparently fallen on deaf ears.
“We found out after having submitted that that she had also asked Trump supporters to stand in her classroom and was targeting them in that way,” Recalde-Martinez said. “Because of that, we pushed for her to be fired.”
Unidentified students in the class told the College Republicans that Cox wanted the Trump voters to stand up so the other students could see “who to look out for.” Even worse, she allegedly said, “I see no one is standing so I guess you’re too cowardly to admit it.”
Amazingly, OCC has stood by the unhinged professor. But as Recalde-Martinez pointed out, she has seen close to a 200-student drop-off in enrollment.
“It’s obvious that students want faculty members that can feel they’ll receive a quality education from, not indoctrination,” he said.
Recalde-Martinez noted that since the election he and fellow Republicans at the college have been subjected to death threats, harassment, and hateful graffiti on the Republican club windows from supporters of “Antifa,” the so-called antifascist group that has been creating havoc around the country and promoting “punching Nazis” (Trump supporters).
“They mean business — they will do physical harm,” Recalde-Martinez said.