A California college reversed the decision to suspend one of their students for surreptitiously recording his professor during an anti-Trump rant, The Washington Post reported.
Caleb O’Neil, a freshman business major at Orange Coast College, recorded his human sexuality professor calling Trump’s election win a”an act of terrorism.”
During the rant, which took place November 15, Olga Perez Stable Cox told her class that “We’re really back to being in a civil war,” according to The Post.
O’Neil, who is a registered Republican, said he began recording to protect himself from grade discrimination. “I was scared I’d have repercussions on my grades because she knew I was a Trump supporter,” O’Neil said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
O’Neil showed the recording to a Republican group on campus who pressured the school to speak out against their belief that the video constituted an abuse of power by Cox. When they didn’t act quickly enough, the video was uploaded online, and earned harsh rebuke from various sources nationwide.
Cox received threats and did not return to the classroom out of fear of retaliation, according to The Post. Orange Coast College then took action against O’Neil indicating that the recording, taken without the professor’s consent, was a violation of the code of conduct. He received a semester suspension for the recording.
That suspension resulted in fierce outcry against a perceived affront to First Amendment rights.
The Orange County Register’s editorial board repudiated the school’s decision and demanded a recall of school board members if the suspension was not reversed.
“At its core, this is a full-fledged assault on free speech. And a desire to intimidate and squash differing political opinions,” the board wrote.
Orange Coast College conceded last week, allowing O’Neil to resume classes immediately.
“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 school said in a statement.
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