Sometime after the election during the height of the fallout from the results, a human sexuality professor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California was caught on camera calling Trump’s win an “act of terrorism,” among other things.
Her comments echoed what other college professors across the country had been saying – and probably still are – about how angry and fearful they are that Trump won.
The video was secretly recorded by an as-of-now unnamed student in the classroom, and it was uploaded to Facebook by the Orange Coast College Republicans.
Here was what the professor – identified as Olga Perez Stable Cox – had to say:
“…a white supremacist and a vice president that is one of the most anti-gay humans in this country. And so, we are in for a difficult time, and again, I do believe we can get past that.
“Our nation is divided. We have been assaulted. It’s an act of terrorism. 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.
“It is not some stranger from some other country coming in and attacking our sense of what it means to be an American and the things that we stand for. And that makes it more painful, because I’m sure all of us have people in our families, in our circle of friends, that are part of that movement, and it is very difficult.
“We are way beyond Republicans and Democrats, and we’re really back to being in a Civil War. And I don’t mean it in a fighting way, but our nation is divided as clearly as it was in Civil War times.
“And my hope is that we will get some good leadership to help us to overcome that.”
After that, professor Cox went over some “coping mechanisms,” presumably how to “deal with” the election results. One such coping mechanism she mentioned was to embrace the “fact” that they are in the majority – that is, of all the people who voted for president, most of them did not vote for Trump.
After the video was posted to social media, the union representing professor Cox threatened the students involved: “This video violates the Coast District student code of conduct and California Education code,” the union’s comment on Facebook read. “The student(s) involved will be facing discipline.”
According to AFP, ever since the video was uploaded to Facebook and YouTube, the union – Coast Federation of Educators, AFT Local 1911 – stated that the college and the professor have been getting death threats and hate mail:
“You want communism, go to Cuba… try to bring it to America and we’ll put a (expletive) bullet in your face,” one email read, according to union president Rob Schneiderman.
He said another email described Cox as a “nutcase” and vowed to make public her home address.
Now, according to AFP, she’s fled the state and is in hiding. She’s expected to return after the end of the year.
The union initially posted that comment on Facebook notifying the students involved that they “will be facing discipline.” However, that doesn’t necessarily mean legal action. The union president later told Fox News that they are not pursuing legal action against the students, and that professor Cox’s statements were obviously “hyperbole.”
But most recently, the AFP reported, “The teacher’s union, meanwhile, has said the student who surreptitiously recorded Cox could face legal action as the video was in violation of the student code of conduct.”
Obviously, there’s no place for the death threats and nasty comments leveled at Cox and Orange Coast College. Those have only made the situation worse.
But, when you’re in the position of college professor, and you feel like venting your political emotions during class, expect that someone’s going to be recording it and posting it on the internet. I’m not saying that the professor shouldn’t have her freedom of speech. She should, and so should students whose opinions differ from hers.
Some on campus are calling for her to be fired for her comments they deemed to be offensive. That’s where I differ. I wouldn’t be calling on the college to fire her. She made some ridiculous comments about Trump, comments that I wouldn’t even make toward Hillary if she won. But she has a right to speak her mind.
(However, speaking one’s mind is not always a wise thing to do. At times, it is vital to bite one’s tongue. This might be one of those cases. Just saying.)
She just has to understand that in her capacity as a college professor, there are going to be consequences to the things she says during class. Anything she says could end up on the internet. She has to know this. And she had to know that her comments calling Trump’s win an “act of terrorism” would most certainly find their way to the internet and elicit strong reactions from people.