Fresno State gadfly and Tea Party activist Neil O’Brien is facing campus judicial action after two Chicano and Latin American Studies professors filed incident reports with the University police in May.
O’Brien says on his Web site the allegations were manufactured and “were intended to cause harm and jeopardize my good student status.” He claims a video will “exonerate” him. He adds: “One thing is certain. WE will show them NO MERCY :-).”
The university offered a settlement agreement whereby, without admitting anything, O’Brien would have to stay at least 100 feet away from the Chicano and Latin American Studies (CLAS) faculty offices, staff offices and classrooms, as well as any faculty, staff or administrators connected to the CLAS program. O’Brien replied, “You can bet that Dr. Welty and his administration will be told where they can shove this agreement.”
An allegation of violating the code of student conduct by engaging in “conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the University community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, or sexual misconduct” was leveled at O’Brien following two incidents on May 11.
In the first incident, Dr, Victor Torres reported to the University police that he was in his office meeting with a student when O’Brien “barged” in “with a video camera in hand.” Torres says O’Brien approached him “in a hostile manner while placing the camera in” Torres’ face. According to Torres, O’Brien proceeded to ask him questions “in a loud and angry voice.” Torres says he told O’Brien he would not talk to him, especially as he was meeting with another student.
O’Brien, according to Torres, then refused to leave the office after being repeatedly asked to leave. Torres says he was able to “coax him to the door,” but “he prevented me from closing the door with his foot. I asked him several times to remove his foot and he would not. It was not until I walked over to my desk and picked up the phone to call campus police that he removed his foot. All the while he was being belligerent and loud.”
“In general,” Torres says in an e-mail to Dean of Students Carolyn Coon, “I found his hostile and angry attitude, coupled with his unwillingness to leave my office when asked, threatening. Given his behavior, and comments about me not being ‘macho,’ there was no way of telling how far he was willing to go to instigate an altercation. Members of the campus community should not have to walk around campus looking over their shoulder. The campus needs to be a safe environment in order for it to be conducive to teaching and learning.”
Torres, who O’Brien has claimed is “anti-American,” a “radical goon” and an “enemy of freedom,” is the chair of CLAS and the adviser for La Voz de Aztlan, the Latino cultural newspaper insert.
During the other incident, Dr. Maria-Aparecida Lopes reported that O’Brien appeared at her office door and filmed her. Lopes says O’Brien told her that “I am stalking you.” She said that he then showed her a newspaper “that appeared to be The Collegian” and asked her whether she knew the newspaper and what her opinion was of an article. She said she replied, “I do not want to talk to you.”
Lopes says O’Brien “insisted” that she answer his questions. She added that she repeated that she did not wish to speak with him and then closed the office door, shutting him out.
Coon met with O’Brien in mid-June to discuss the allegations. The next step in the process is a formal judicial hearing in front of a campus hearing officer.