The issues of bringing politics into the classroom and individual privacy have come crashing together in a unique case in California as a college student has been suspended for filming one of his professors giving an anti-Trump rant while teaching a class. The student has appealed the suspension and the case is receiving national attention.
Who Is Caleb O’Neil?
Caleb O’Neil is a 19-year-old sophomore at Orange Coast College and a supporter of Donald Trump and the Republican party.
O’Neil filmed Orange Coast College professor Olga Perez Stable Cox, 66, calling President Trump a “white supremacist” while giving a lecture in her psychology and human sexuality class at the California college in December, according to The Daily Mail.
He then anonymously forwarded the footage to the school’s Republican body for it to be disseminated online, eliciting significant backlash against Cox from critics who don’t believe her personal political views belong in the classroom.
On Wednesday O’Neil came forward and revealed that the school had suspended him for sharing the video, which he has appealed.
Orange Coast College issued a statement saying that O’Neil had violated the student code of conduct by filming Cox without her knowledge. They have tasked him with writing an essay detailing why he shared the video which must also include an apology to Cox or else he will be suspended for a semester.
Lawyer Bill Becker, who is representing O’Neil, criticized the college for its decision, saying at a news conference that it was a “leftist attack” on conservatives.
“We think this is a clear example of unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination that targets conservatives and we’re going to challenge it,” he said.
Why Caleb Filmed The Professor
O’Neil has appealed the suspension and is allowed to attend class until a final ruling has been made. On Wednesday, O’Neil said he decided to film Cox to gather proof of her liberal views. He also admitted that he believed Cox would grade him more harshly solely because he was a Trump supporter.
“I pulled my phone out to record it because I was honestly scared that it would affect my grades because she knew I was a Trump supporter,” he said. He had previously expressed his concerns to the school’s Republican Group, saying he felt “censored and bullied if I did not agree with her opinions.”
Cox has said she’s received death threats from Trump fans after the video was uploaded to YouTube by the Orange Coast College’s Republican Group. In the video, she can be seen telling students: “Our nation is divided, we have been assaulted, it’s an act of terrorism.” She also said Trump was a “white supremacist” and that Vice President Pence was “one of the most anti-gay people in the country.”
Cox did not back away from her comments, saying she was only vocalizing what many in the country were feeling. “My privacy has been demolished. And that’s awful. I’m a very private person. And it’s very scary,” she told The Orange County Register about being filmed without her knowledge.
The school’s conservative organization is calling for Caleb to be spared from any punishment.
“Caleb was so afraid of being targeted by his professor for being a Trump supporter, that he felt compelled to show the world what’s really going on at our nation’s college classrooms,” the college’s Republican Group president Joshua Recalde-Martinez said. “Orange Coast College just suspended him for a year, and is forcing him to write an apology letter to his professor and to the school. He may be expelled if he doesn’t comply with all of the requirements they sent out for him.”