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OCC Republicans’ ex-leader wants college to revoke award for professor who made anti-Trump comments

Joshua Recalde-Martinez
Joshua Recalde-Martinez, right, former president of the Orange Coast College Republicans club, looks on as William Becker, attorney for student Caleb O’Neil, speaks at a news conference in February in support of O’Neil, who video-recorded OCC professor Olga Perez Stable Cox as she made controversial comments about President Trump.
(Don Leach | Daily Pilot)

The former president of the Orange Coast College Republicans club wants the college to revoke the Faculty of the Year award granted to Olga Perez Stable Cox, the human-sexuality professor who was video-recorded during class last fall calling now-President Trump’s election victory “an act of terrorism.”

“We’re pushing for someone to be Faculty of the Year that truly represents what OCC is about,” Joshua Recalde-Martinez, the former club president who is studying political science at the Costa Mesa college, said Thursday.

Recalde-Martinez said he also wants the college to allow all faculty members to vote on the award recipient instead of relying on a decision by OCC’s 10-member Professional Development Committee.

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He said he and others plan to make the demands at the next Coast Community College District board of trustees meeting on Wednesday in Costa Mesa.

Attempts to reach Cox for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.

Recalde-Martinez was president of the OCC Republicans when the club posted a video on its Facebook page of Cox apparently referring to Trump as a “white supremacist” and to now-Vice President Mike Pence as “one of the most anti-gay humans in this country.”

Caleb O’Neil, one of Cox’s students, made the video during class Nov. 15 and shared it with the club because, he said later, he “felt as if all the eyes in the room were on me” because he was a Trump supporter and he “was terrified about going to my car and having some crazed student come after me.”

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Olga Perez Stable Cox
Olga Perez Stable Cox teaches her human-sexuality class at Orange Coast College in 2008. She was chosen to receive OCC’s latest Faculty of the Year award.
(File photo | Daily Pilot)

Any student or faculty member at the college can make a recommendation for the Faculty of the Year award. The Professional Development Committee, which is composed of faculty members, classified staff and past recipients of the award, gives nominees credit for their involvement on campus and evaluates their methods of teaching through a scoring matrix.

Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, said he didn’t know when the committee chose Cox for the award, though it became public March 16 after students heard rumors about her nomination and began sharing information on Facebook.

The college hasn’t made a formal announcement of the award, though Bennett said he expects one next week.

Recalde-Martinez said Cox fails to uphold the standard for an exceptional faculty member because she “unfairly and without respect for the diverse opinion in the classroom ... went on diatribes against the president, the vice president and those who elected them.”

He said he wants officials to revise school policy to “protect OCC students from discrimination because of their political affiliation and ideological beliefs.”

Referring to recent campus graffiti targeting him, he said, “I want to make sure these issues don’t happen again in the future and additional protections are provided.”

In a letter to the Coast Community College District, Recalde-Martinez lists changes he believes should be made to sections of the Anti-Discrimination Statement in the district’s Student Code of Conduct.

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District board President David Grant said Thursday that Recalde-Martinez is welcome to propose whatever he likes during the meeting and that it may be considered.

But school policies are constantly revised, and currently all policies and procedures are up to speed, Grant said.

Bennett said any recommendations from students and faculty members are welcomed and that Recalde-Martinez’s request will be considered through multiple governing groups on campus.

Last week, Bennett issued incorrect information that Cox had declined to accept the award. Soon afterward, Bennett said Cox would accept the honor and that he had personally confirmed it with her. He said the earlier error was a result of trying to address news media inquiries in “the heat of the moment.”

The winner of the annual honor typically receives it during a public ceremony and addresses OCC’s graduating class during commencement.

Bennett said Thursday that Cox would not be a commencement speaker and that a meeting is scheduled for next week to decide who will take her place.

O’Neil’s video of Cox led to demonstrations at OCC for and against the professor.

Then in February, the college told O’Neil he would be suspended for violating rules against recording class discussions without permission. But the college district board later directed Orange Coast to revoke O’Neil’s suspension.

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priscella.vega@latimes.com

Twitter: @VegaPriscella


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