OCC professor who made anti-Trump comments declines Faculty of the Year award
The Orange Coast College professor who made controversial comments about now-President Trump in a video recorded by a student during class last fall has declined to accept OCC’s Faculty of the Year award, according to the college.
Human-sexuality professor Olga Perez Stable Cox was notified of the award last week, but she declined to accept and did not want to participate in related activities, said Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation.
The annual honor is typically received during a public ceremony, and the winner addresses the graduating class during commencement.
The Costa Mesa college didn’t make a formal announcement about Cox winning the award, Bennett said, but students heard rumors about her nomination and began sharing information on Facebook.
OCC’s Professional Development Committee chooses the winner of the award. The committee consists of faculty members, classified staff and past recipients of the award.
Any student or faculty member can recommend a member of the faculty for the honor. The committee then gives nominees credit for their involvement on campus and evaluates their methods of teaching.
The committee does not plan to select another recipient for this year’s award, Bennett said.
Cox drew national media attention after a student secretly video-recorded her during class in November calling Trump a “white supremacist” and his election victory “an act of terrorism.” The student, Caleb O'Neil, shared the recording with the Orange Coast College Republicans club, whose president at the time, Joshua Recalde-Martinez, posted it online.
The video went viral and sparked a nationwide debate between those who said Cox had the academic freedom to express her views in a private setting and those who argued that her statements went too far.
It also touched off demonstrations at OCC by groups for and against Cox.
In February, the college told O'Neil he would be suspended for violating rules against recording class discussions without permission.
The Coast Community College District board of trustees later directed Orange Coast to revoke O'Neil’s suspension.
Cox, who has taught at OCC for more than 30 years, did not face discipline and continues to teach there.
After the video became public, Cox told the Washington Post that she was living in fear because of hundreds of email and social media attacks against her and even threats of violence. She said the threats caused her to end her semester early and temporarily leave her home.
In December, the Coast Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1911, circulated a letter defending Cox.
“She’s never had a complaint lodged against her by a student,” said Rob Schneiderman, president of the union, which represents instructors in the Coast Community College District.
On the website RateMyProfessors.com, which enables college students to review and rank their teachers, Cox has a 4.6 rating out 5 and is the highest-rated professor at OCC.