Members of United Faculty, college instructors and students shared statements in support of the Cypress College adjunct professor, who was shown in a three-minute viral clip from a Zoom class meeting, debating with a student.
Cypress and Fullerton College held their regularly scheduled Faculty Senate meetings Thursday, expecting a call to action that was allegedly initiated by North Orange County Community College District students; public commentary was limited to three minutes in response to the effort.
Many faculty members shared their fears over how many of the things they may say during a recorded virtual lecture could be taken out of context and shared, inciting attacks or retaliation against them.
A statement written by the adjunct professor was read aloud during the Cypress meeting on her behalf, explaining what was not seen by the public.
The 19-year-old student, Braden Ellis, is seen in the three-minute clip that made headlines Monday, having what looked like a heated exchange with the college instructor during a class meeting over Zoom. Faculty members say the video was “taken out of context.”
“What we were seeing on that three-minute tape was actually part of the lesson plan. That was part of the role-playing that was going on in academic exercise and that’s the best thing that makes me most worried because I do that all the time at my classes,” history instructor Josh Ashenmiller said.
He continued, “You record me for three minutes and take it out of context and you’ll think I’m Adolf Hitler Hitler. I’ve quoted Adolf Hitler in the past when we study WWII.”
A recurring topic that was brought up in the public statements was the intellectual property of recorded Zoom classes being dispersed by students without permission by the instructor. Fullerton art professor Megan Debin addressed how the district failed to speak out about the misuse and unauthorized of class Zoom recordings.
Cypress College Language Arts Department Senator Liana Koeppel stated, “… it’s very important that we have a disciplinary action for students who post recorded information without the instructor or students permission. That is something we need to demand that this school has, to hold students accountable when they do violate the privacy of instructors or other students.”
Some statements addressed how Ellis is also seen in pictures flashing symbols of white supremacy on Facebook alongside another man, wearing a MAGA hat.
“The thing that bothers me is that the fact that this student took this part of the video out of context and immediately went to the news media,” Hispanic woman, LGBTQ member and Cypress student, Crystal Colocho said. “I say that he knew exactly what he was doing and I will also say there is a picture online of him doing the white supremacy symbol that no one has talked about yet and I have yet to see anyone say news about.”
After the clip began circulation on major news networks, Gloria Badal, a Political Science instructor from Cypress College, was mistakenly targeted for the first three days as the adjunct instructor in the video.
“I was targeted simply because I also am middle eastern and I work at Cypress college. That was it, that was the calculation. Apparently, we are all the same. I received all this hate mail,” said Badal.
Cypress College administration has yet to make an official statement about the incident. The instructor is currently on a leave until the rest of the year and is not returning back to the college in the fall.
Many attendees at the Faculty Senate meeting questioned the campus’s anti-racist policies and the safety of other adjunct instructors and students who are POC.
Associate professor and chair of Ethnic Studies Amber Rose Gonzalez on behalf of the United Faculty said, “We are deeply concerned about the impact this has had on all employees within the district. The fact that our colleague is a queer Muslim Middle Eastern woman and contingent adjunct faculty member of our community has put her in an incredibly vulnerable position.”