%rssLink ()%> <%googleAnalytics ()%>
Claim: Orange County professor caught on tape telling students that Trump is a 'white supremacist' whose election was an 'act of terrorism'
Summary: In 2016, Olga Perez Stable Cox, a professor within the psychology department at Orange Coast College, was accused of going on a public rant in front of her students, calling Trump a 'white supremacist' and referring to Vice President Mike Pence as one of the 'most anti-gay humans'. One of her students caught these accusations on video where it was then submitted to the Huffington Post. From there the footage spread like wildfire and was met with an uproar from student associations across the country causing Cox to flee her home in California and go into hiding because of violent threats she was receiving.
Origin and Prevalence:
This claim originates from a video uploaded by Orange Coast College's Young Republican President Joshua Recalde-Martinez on December 6, 2016. In the video, Olga Perez Stable Coz, an instructor at the college's psychology department may be heard blatantly regarding President Trump as a "white supremacist" and referring to his election as an "act of terrorism." The video elicited a mixed response causing some to be outraged by the professor's claims. The video has since been picked up and shared across many Young Republican groups who have openly criticized the teacher, calling her comments an abuse of power and another instance of liberal takeover in school systems. Despite the outrage, many have stepped forward and commemorated the Professor for taking a stand and speaking freely. The video has gained a large audience with a reported half million views. The Huffington Post was the first news outlet to report on this occurrence, the day after it happened, on December 7th. The story began to reach popularity as other news sites such as the Daily Mail, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times picked up the story and began commenting on Recalde-Martinez's video. It was also shared throughout mainstream social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Issues and Analysis:
Given that there is substantial video evidence that Ms. Stable Coz carried out what was stated in the claim, the story nonetheless elicits a discussion on neutrality among academic professors. Many online users as well as members of the college have commemorated the professor for her outspokenness and conviction while others have gone so far as to petition for her termination. The following quote ( 1) ( 1) was submitted by the petition:
"We the students, community members, and taxpayers will not stand for community college students at Orange Coast College being targeted and bullied by their professor in class. We understand that classrooms are meant for education and not indoctrination, and professors should not use their positions of authority to create a hostile learning environment." Meanwhile, Orange Coast College itself has named her faculty Colleague of the Year. The faculty union president commented ( 2) ( 2) that the "faculty do not all agree (as) to what she said, but most faculty do agree that within the context of her class, being expressive is acceptable."
Thus this controversy begs the question: should public school academic authorities be allowed to discuss politics in the classroom? This question was posed on debate.org., a popular online discussion site in which online users may weigh in on various topics. Of the thousands that participated in the debate, 37% said yes while 63% said no. The majority of those that voted yes did so on the grounds that teachers should be able to express their opinion so that the students may learn and better prepared for the real world. Many of those that voted "no" claimed that it would create unnecessary tension in class and that it could influence the students towards one direction when they should be in an un-biased, neutral zone.
Free Speech and public schools is strictly outlined on the Center for Public Education website. According to the Center for Public Education, teachers and students are free to speak their minds on public grounds. However, even with the First Amendment protection guaranteed by the US Constitution, there are limits to how free speech can be exercised in a classroom. But often times, figuring out where this line is drawn can be complicated. The protection of students and faculties' First Amendment rights is outlined by the need for a safe and orderly school environment that is conducive to learning but also guarantees American entitlement to speak or express themselves. Courts have ruled that school officials and employees are not always free to express their opinions and beliefs, even at a level of higher education such as a University or College. Employees cannot be disciplined for speaking out on, "public concern," matters. However, schools have the power to take action when employees go public with their personal concerns. Interestingly enough, in this case, the school did not take action but rather she was nominated for "Faculty Member of the Year" at the Florida Community College.
The main U.S. Supreme Court case Pickering v. Board of Education is a prime example where the court held this ideal that employee freedom of speech with regards to issue of public concern is protected. However, as mentioned above, there is no protection when it comes to speech for personal concern, such as political beliefs.