After Trump video flap, signs warn Orange Coast College students against recording classes without permission

Almost two months after a secretly recorded video of an Orange Coast College professor's postelection comments about President Trump touched off a firestorm, signs reminding students that in-class recordings are prohibited without instructors' permission have been posted for the spring semester.

The classroom signs cite the Coast Community College District's student code of conduct and the California Education Code, which prohibit recordings without permission.

“That's always been a policy, and I believe that the administration just wants students to know what the policy is,” said Rob Schneiderman, president of the Coast Federation of Educators, a union that represents instructors in the district.

“We're not just concerned about faculty members having words taken out of context,” he said, “but we're also concerned for students who may not want their image, words or questions to be published and widely distributed.”

Joshua Recalde-Martinez, president emeritus of the Orange Coast College Republicans, which posted the video on its Facebook page in December, said he considered the signs to be “a slap in the face of students.”

“One of the things it's doing is suppressing students from reporting faculty wrongdoing,” he said. “Another is producing a huge inconvenience to those who otherwise regularly record classes.”

Professor Olga Perez Stable Cox was recorded in her human sexuality class by an unidentified student days after the Nov. 8 election. In the video, Cox apparently refers to Trump as a “white supremacist” and to Vice President Mike Pence as “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country.”

The two-minute video also shows Cox saying: “We are in for a difficult time.... Our nation is divided. We have been assaulted; it's an act of terrorism.”

She noted that Trump's opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote, though Trump, a Republican, won the electoral vote.

“More of us voted to not have that kind of leadership,” she said. “We didn't win because of the way our electoral college is set up, but we are the majority, and that's helping me to feel better.”

The student shared the recording with the Orange Coast College Republicans, according to Recalde-Martinez.

Before the club posted the video, Seal Beach attorney Shawn Steel filed a complaint with Orange Coast College President Dennis Harkins on behalf of the group, saying Cox had “wrongfully assumed all students were disappointed with the loss of Hillary Clinton.”

Harkins said in December that the district's legal counsel sent a response to Steel saying the student services and instructional wings at OCC had a review in progress to determine whether Cox's comments were in response to a student's question or were related to class curriculum.

Steel said Tuesday that he had not received an update on the investigation. Calls to Harkins' office and Orange Coast's public relations department were not immediately returned.

alexandra.chan@latimes.com

Chan writes for Times Community News

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