Orange Coast College: Suspension of Professor Without a Hearing for Political Science Lecture

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: Orange Coast College

At Orange Coast College, days after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks Professor Kenneth W. Hearlson, a professor of contemporary politics, invited all students to join him in a discussion of the recent terrorist attacks. During the event Hearlson argued that silence on crimes against Jews in the Middle East was consent to terrorism. Several Muslim students complained that Professor Hearlson had called them terrorists, but that accusation was belied by the existence of a full audiotape recording of the class. Nevertheless, without even a formal charge or a hearing, OCC President Margaret A. Gratton promptly ordered Professor Hearlson off the campus. Faced with the sunlight of media coverage and the scrutiny of public opinion after FIRE launched a media campaign for the school’s blatant violation of the First Amendment, OCC begrudgingly announced Professor Hearlson’s reinstatement to his classroom in December—three months after his punishment and suspension began.