CFA to OC Register: We all need to commit to ‘Due Process’

CFA leaders have a stern rebuke for an Orange County Register opinion article that attempted to pass judgment on a Cal State Fullerton faculty member who is facing discipline from the Cal State Fullerton administration for events that took place at a campus protest.

In the meantime, OC Register columnist John Phillips penned a derisive, unfair, and arguably libelous opinion article calling for the faculty member’s dismissal and bolstering conjecture.

CFA President Jennifer Eagan and Representation Chair David Bradfield have issued the following response.

“It is regrettable that the Orange County Register chose to publish an opinion piece by staff columnist John Phillips (March 31, “Universities should worry less about ‘triggering’ and more about ‘hair-trigger tempers’”), which resorts to hearsay and alt-right social media complaints to make a case in the news media that would never hold up in an impartial legal proceeding.

“Phillips would have California’s public university system abandon “due process,” the legal right of every person in the United States to a fair hearing of the facts when accused of a crime or misdeed.  

“The actual facts of what transpired that day have yet to be determined in a neutral setting. 

“Mr. Phillips’s second-hand account appears to be inspired by posts in ultra-right social media. Those reports make unsubstantiated claims about the accused faculty member’s behavior and are presented in a condescending, even intimidating tone toward the accused, toward those who would ensure due process, toward Orange County Register readers looking for fact-based commentary, and toward anyone who might see it differently.

“If the measures Phillips advocates were taken, he would have the power to deprive a person of his or her job and legal rights simply because that person’s politics are different from Mr. Phillips’ own.

“That’s not okay. The California Faculty Association will fulfill its duty to protect any CSU faculty member from this mob mentality, and we will work to help students see through such twisted civic lessons.

“We in CFA call on the CSU Fullerton campus administration to set an example for CSU Fullerton students by not yielding to undemocratic pressure and fear of biased news coverage. It is wrong to conduct a “less-than-thorough” investigation of the facts. The administration needs the courage to commit fully to fair and impartial due process.

“Furthermore, the Orange County Register needs to rise to its responsibility in this time, and yes you do have a responsibility. It is wrong to teach through your medium that it’s okay to deny due process rights because of political opinions, or that it’s okay to try people without knowing the facts. Those views are bad for the future of journalism, and for our country.

“As for Mr. Phillips, if he is genuinely concerned about the CSU campus community, he would stress that truth and due process for students, faculty, and everyone in these United States are worth protecting.”