Students, faculty and advocates united Tuesday at the North Orange County Community College District’s Anaheim campus in support of the Cypress College adjunct instructor who was put on a leave of absence after a viral video showed her in a heated debate with a student about police.
Colleagues and a statement from the adjunct instructor explained that the video was taken out of context; the three-minute clip, which made international headlines almost two weeks ago, only showed the question-and-answer session that was part of an assignment.
Protestors questioned NOCCCD’s intentions and mission of diversity and compliance, demanding accountability and support from the district for its faculty and students.
The NOCCCD Student Coalition organized the demonstration in response to the district’s handling of the situation, claiming they have failed to stand against white supremacy, Islamophobia and gendered violence after silencing the adjunct instructor and delaying action.
As a Muslim woman of color herself, Eiman believes the incident was isolated and the student involved had an agenda as he deliberately distributed the out-of-context clip to the media. She is unhappy with the public response from Fullerton College, Cypress’ sister school, and the district.
Eiman, a Fullerton College student, was never involved on campus until the issue was brought to light. She declined to give her last name for her safety.
“It just goes to show that although these institutions may claim that they’re anti-racist, may claim that they’re in support of movements and groups such as Black Lives Matter when things that are racially implicated happen within their district and that racial and racialized and gendered and Islamophobic attacks happen to adjunct faculty especially, they’re not willing to abide by their so-called anti-racist values, their so-called anti-racist practices,” she said.
Mohammad Abdel Haq, a full-time tenured sociology professor at Fullerton College and lead negotiator of United Faculty, noted his reaction to Fullerton College President Greg Schulz dismissing the issue during the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, May 6.
“This was very disheartening and frustrating for us because Dr. Schulz is a white man that’s in a position of power with three VPs that are three men, as far as I know, all of them are cis-hetero men,” Abdel Haq said. “And they failed to stand up and speak up for a queer Muslim woman, they failed to use their privileges.”
The protest was planned to be held at the Anaheim Campus’ free speech assembly area, where “students of the District shall be permitted to exercise their rights of free expression,” and, “Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the college,” as stated in the district’s Administrative Procedure 3900 on speech.
According to Abdel Haq, North Orange Continuing Education administration sent an internal email yesterday that said its Anaheim Campus will be closed Tuesday after 3 p.m. in anticipation of an event, which he believes was in response to the organized rally. The event was moved to a sidewalk along West Romneya Drive as a result.
Abdel Haq explained, “So they claim that we have the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and that’s what they’re protecting, but they’re clearly only protecting it for the white supremacists. They’re protecting it from the people that are attacking queer Muslim women. They’re not protecting it for the people that want to speak up and challenge what has happened and what they’ve done and their failure.”
(This story was updated May 12, 2021 at 1:50 p.m.)