The lifting of sanctions on Caleb O’Neil has caused a surge of emotion as the controversial situation has finally been put to an end in quite a bittersweet fashion.

While the Coast Report Editorial Board believes that O’Neil’s punishment should’ve been upheld by the Coast Community College District Board of Trustees for violating district and state policy, the entire situation could have potentially been avoided.

It seems as if the district was forced into its decision to remove O’Neil’s punishment not because they felt they were wrong but because they caved to the public pressure aimed at Orange Coast College from the Orange County Register on a daily basis. The Coast Report Editorial Board believes that the district simply feared a loss should a lawsuit against them be filed.

We believe that much of the blame for the situation’s severity is due to a failure of leadership from OCC President Dennis Harkins.

Harkins knew about the videotape two weeks prior to its upload online. On Nov. 30, O’Neil and his lawyer filed a formal complaint with Harkins and asked if some sort of dialogue between instructor Olga Perez Stable Cox and himself was possible.

Harkins doesn’t appear to have done even that.

It appears that O’Neil’s original intentions included getting this situation appropriately dealt with rather than getting Cox into any trouble. If O’Neil really wanted to, he could have put the video up online — without approaching administration.

All of these were mistakes on Harkins’ end. His mismanagement of the situation made both the school and everyone involved come out that much less unscathed.  

This doesn’t mean that O’Neil’s actions were OK or even legal, but the way his actions were handled by Harkins didn’t help the matter.

The mishandling of O’Neil’s case has opened a door and set a dangerous precedent. If students see that one can do what he did and get away with it by intensifying the situation, what’s to stop others from doing the same?

(1) comment


Caleb O'Neill is an American hero of free speech

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