Suspension lifted for Orange County student who recorded professor’s anti-Trump comments

Suspended student Caleb O'Neil appears during a news conference at Orange Coast College.
Suspended student Caleb O’Neil appears during a news conference at Orange Coast College.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

The Coast Community College District Board of Trustees has directed Orange Coast College to revoke its suspension of a student who secretly video-recorded his human-sexuality professor calling President Trump’s election victory “an act of terrorism.”

The student, Caleb O’Neil, “will continue to attend classes without interruption,” according to a statement released Thursday by Orange Coast College.

The professor, Olga Perez Stable Cox, will not face any discipline and will teach classes this semester, according to the statement.

The statement said the decision was reached Wednesday at a special board meeting, where trustees agreed to “bring closure to a chain of events that has led to the distress for many, most especially, an OCC teacher and student.”


O’Neil’s Nov. 15 recording of Cox was prohibited by the district’s Student Code of Conduct and the California Education Code because he didn’t have Cox’s permission.

But, the OCC statement said, “without condoning the unlawful recording of a lecture, the student’s desire to voice his displeasure is understandable.”

“The student in this case felt he could not freely share his political views in a classroom, which is why he felt his only recourse was to record a lecture he felt was unfair,” according to the statement.

“The teacher in this case felt she was sharing her views and responding to a student who voiced concerns about the political climate,” the statement added. “Without condoning what was said, the angst and distress she has felt, as hundreds of hateful and threatening messages were directed at her, is understandable.

“It’s time to move forward with increased empathy and understanding of the differences that have and will exist on a campus filled with individuals from an array of backgrounds who bring them a wide range of political views, religious affiliations and ideals,” according to the statement.

O’Neil, a 19-year-old freshman business student and registered Republican, appealed his suspension last week. He was quoted by the college Thursday as saying: “I’m so happy. This is what I wanted — to continue in school and row for the crew team. I love OCC.”

In a letter Feb. 9, Victoria Lugo, interim dean of students at OCC, informed O’Neil of his suspension for one “primary (fall/spring) semester in addition to the summer” and other disciplinary actions, including that he submit a written apology to Cox and write a three-page essay on why he recorded Cox’s class, how he feels about his footage going viral online and his reaction to its causing “damage to Orange Coast College students, faculty and staff.”

OCC spokesman Juan Gutierrez said Thursday that “all the sanctions are lifted.”


Vega writes for Times Community News.


FBI joins search for Sylmar boy who vanished during powerful storm


Sorry, EBay fans. Man who destroyed Trump’s Walk of Fame star has returned brass pieces to police

L.A. police, investigating child sexual abuse case going back to 1998, ask victims to step forward