After a California community college instructor called Republican Donald Trump’s election to the presidency an “act of terrorism” during a recent human sexuality class, Olga Perez Stable Cox of Orange Coast College reportedly received death threats and temporarily left the state.
And since video of Cox’s declaration went viral — she also called Vice President-elect Mike Pence “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country” — a pair of students from the class are adding more fuel to the fire.
Tanner Webb and Noah Faerber told KCBS-TV other things Cox said during class — when video wasn’t secretly rolling — were particularly intimidating. Such as asking Trump backers in the room to stand up.
“She was saying dehumanizing things about Trump supporters,” Webb told KCBS, “and nobody felt like they could stand up. Me, in fear of my grade. And then she said, ‘I bet none of you will stand up because you’re embarrassed for yourselves. The rest of the class should look out for them and know who to protect themselves from.’”
“Students shouldn’t be shamed for their political beliefs,” Faerber added to the station, “or who they vote for.”
“Nobody wants to stand up and be publicly humiliated by a teacher who holds the power in the classroom like that,” Webb noted to KCBS.
Webb and Faerber told the station they’ve kept quiet about what they said they heard to protect their grades — but after news hit that the student who recorded the video faces possible legal action, the pair decided to come forward.
Rob Schneiderman, president of the Coast Federation of Educators/American Federation of Teachers Local 1911, told the Orange County Register a different account. He said after Cox told students that some people would be happy with the election results and a student stood up in approval, Cox then invited others to stand as well if they wanted.
The union president told KCBS the student who shot the video acted unethically, that the clip was a set-up and edited to make Cox look worse and that she was merely making exaggerated statements: “The faculty of Orange Coast College don’t believe that students are these fragile individuals that cannot hear hyperbole and that they need to be coddled.”
But Webb and Faerber told the station it’s about being bullied.
“If I fail this class because I spoke out on something I believe in, then I could care less,” Webb told KCBS.
Vincent Wetzel told the Register he’s a gay student and has attended some of Cox’s LGBT panels — but he’s not happy with the instructor’s behavior.
“This has nothing to do with free speech,” Wetzel told the paper. “It’s a professor overstepping her profession. Of all the people who are supposed to provide an inclusive environment, it’s her. Now I don’t feel comfortable.”
A second video of Cox from the same class was posted online, featuring more of her political views — among them that Orange County is “one of the most conservative counties in the nation” and that living in the county is “scary when you know you are surrounded by so many people that are so hateful.”
On Monday students and faculty members who support Cox verbally sparred with those who’re against her during a noon rally on the Costa Mesa campus, the Register reported.
The Orange Coast College dean of students will determine what happens to the student who recorded the video, the station said.
This story has been updated.