A Southern California faculty union criticized the administration at a community college in Orange County for not supporting an adjunct professor who questioned a student for calling police officers heroes during a presentation captured on video.
The video of a Cypress College professor's interaction with 19-year-old student Braden Ellis was recorded during a Zoom meeting on April 28. Ellis was giving a presentation on cancel culture, which led to the professor’s question of whether police officers should be on children’s TV shows.
The school declined to confirm the identity of the professor due to safety concerns.
The video was shared on YouTube and has been viewed over 238,000 times.
“I think cops are heroes,” Ellis said. When the professor asked if all cops are heroes, Ellis responds, “I'd say a good majority of them. You have bad people in every business.”
“Officers have committed atrocious crimes and have gotten away with it and have never been convicted of any of it, and I speak as a person who has family members who are police officers,” the professor responded. She also said she wouldn’t call the police if someone had a gun or knife pointed at her.
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Following the incident, Marc Posner, the school’s director of communications, released a statement on April 30 stating the professor would be taking a leave of absence for the rest of her time at Cypress and that she intended not to return in the fall semester.
“Cypress College takes great pride in fostering a learning environment for students where ideas and opinions are exchanged as a vital piece of the educational journey. Our community fully embraces this culture; students often defend one another’s rights to express themselves freely, even when opinions differ. Any efforts to suppress free and respectful expression on our campus will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
However, the faculty union believes the statement was not supportive enough and left other faculty members confused and fearing retaliation.
“The failure to issue a clear and strong statement of support for faculty under the existing circumstances is a failure to be anti-racist. It is a failure to protect our most vulnerable faculty,” said the letter sent by the North Orange County Community College District United Faculty and signed by president Christie Diep and lead negotiator Mohammad M. Abdel Haq.
"While the District’s approach right now is to, ‘allow the fire to burn out,’ as has already been explicitly stated to us, it has left some of our colleagues fending for themselves,” read part of the letter sent on Monday. “To that point, this morning, Cypress College had to cancel their on-campus classes due to safety concerns for employees and students, as some have become targets of verbal abuse, harassment, and potential threats to their physical safety and the safety of their families.”
In an interview with Fox News, Ellis, who identified himself as a Republican, said he thought the professor was trying to have a “gotcha” moment and feared for his future at the college after the video was publicly released.
“I just remained calm and respectful and gentle with her arguments,” Ellis told Fox News. “Don't be afraid to speak out against what they teach in college. We as Republicans need to remember that we have strong policies, and we need to remain strong and tough but do it with gentleness and respect.”
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cypress College criticized by faculty union for not defending teacher