Author Topic: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended  (Read 911 times)

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Offline Goober5000

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Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
There are articles all over the internet on this, but this article does a pretty good job of summarizing everything...

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A professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Davie campus named Deandre Poole teaches an "Intercultural Communication" class from a textbook by the same name.  The textbook calls for an exercise where students write the name of Jesus in large letters on a piece of paper and then stomp on it.

Enter Ryan Rotela, a student in the class who happens to be a devout Mormon. Rotela refused to stomp and complained to Professor Poole, telling him, "Never do the assignment again because it’s offensive."  Rotela also told the professor that he was going to complain to the university.  Then, according to Rotela, FAU responded by suspending him from Poole’s class.

FAU, when asked about the incident by local television station WPEC, then issued the following statement:

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Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.

Shortly after, it was first reported by a local Palm Beach County website called Biz Pac Review that Professor Poole is vice-chairman of the Democratic Party of Palm Beach County.  That news was greeted by a big yawn from most in the media. One can only imagine if the professor had been vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party and students were made to stomp on any number of prominent religious figures, but that is another story.

[...]

Late on Friday, March 22nd, Fox News and the Palm Beach Post, among others, reported that FAU finally had released a statement of apology:

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FAU officials issued a statement of apology, saying the exercise was optional and that no students had been disciplined as a result of it.

"This exercise will not be used again," the statement continued. "The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs."

[...]

Today Fox News reports:

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University Files Charges Against Student who Refused to Stomp on Jesus

A Florida Atlantic University student who filed a complaint against his professor after he was ordered to stomp on the name of Jesus has been brought up on academic charges by the school and may no longer attend class, according to documents obtained by Fox News.

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at the Liberty Institute, told Fox News the university’s behavior is "outlandish" and called their press release "inaccurate."

"We believe the university punished him in retaliation for him exposing the class assignment to the public," Sasser said. "Sadly, it is a testimony to the indoctrination that some of the public schools and universities are engaging in – to demonize anything that was valuable in the culture."

Rotela told Fox News he has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from Christians across the nation.

"The response and support I have gotten has been beautiful and uplifting," he said. "I have never seen such a strong wave of Christians thank me for this. Looking back – the whole incident was one of the best and worst moments of my life."

[...]


This article describes the suspension:

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The "Notice of Charges" against Ryan Rotela is contrary to a statement the university released late Friday night saying no one had been disciplined as a result of the classroom activity.

"We can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the university as a result of any activity that took place during this class," the university said in a prepared statement.

However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person."

"In the interim, you may not attend class or contact any of the students involved in this matter – verbally or electronically – or by any other means," Williams wrote to Rotela. "Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint."


Some of these articles imply that the suspension followed the apology, others imply the reserve.  What I find amazing is that a suspension was issued at all.  (Let alone that such a lesson plan would be included in a university textbook, and that a professor would choose to use it.)

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
Sounds like a pretty ****ed up lesson. But I've learned long ago to take the "War on Christianity" stories with a pinch of salt. Especially as the link provided seems to have a definite axe to grind. Most of the quotes come from Fox News and you can't trust them to speak the truth.

Anyone got a trustworthy link to this? One which isn't using a news source who make the Daily Mail seem reputable?
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Offline karajorma

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
I notice that only one of those sites bother to report the actual point of the lesson.

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Update, 3:36 p.m. EST: Fox News commentator Todd Starnes reported on Thursday that Fox had obtained a synopsis of the lesson, but that, while it asked students to write ‘Jesus’ on a piece of a paper and put it on the floor before asking them to step on it, objections such as Rotela’s are part of the lesson plan.

“Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper,” the synopsis said. “Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”


Well it's a crappy lesson, And I'll agree it's unnecessarily offensive, the same point could have been made by simply saying "If I asked you to write down the name Jesus and stomp on it....",  but the huge conspiracy against Christianity that the other websites want to depict doesn't actually exist.



And if the student, knowing the point of the lesson decided to turn this into an attack on Christianity, then yeah, he should be suspended. Cause he's deliberately making false claims in order to bring the university into disrepute. Now maybe that's not what happened, maybe he didn't know that was the point.

So again, I take all claims to do with this story with a huge pinch of salt. Too many people are trying to spin this to further their own agendas.
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Offline Goober5000

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
You are drinking a massive quantity of your own kool-aid here.  Let's try flipping things around:

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Update, 3:36 p.m. EST: Fox News commentator Todd Starnes reported on Thursday that Fox had obtained a synopsis of the lesson, but that, while it asked students to write 'Mohammed' on a piece of a paper and put it on the floor before asking them to step on it, objections such as Rotela’s are part of the lesson plan.

"Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper," the synopsis said. "Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture."

Then suppose that the student was a devout Muslim, and complained to the professor and to the university that such a lesson was highly offensive and should not be taught again.

Now further suppose that the university issued this statement in response to press inquiries, waiting five days before issuing the actual apology:
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Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.

But it's all good, because if the student, knowing the point of the lesson decided to turn this into an attack on Islam, then yeah, he should be suspended. Cause he's deliberately making false claims in order to bring the university into disrepute. Now maybe that's not what happened, maybe he didn't know that was the point.

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
Yeah, I take Fox and PJMedia each with huge buckets of salt, and the other stories are missing a lot of the details.  I'd be interested to actually hear the story from both sides.
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Offline BloodEagle

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
I'm rather curious why the Professor used a religious symbol, rather than a purely political or cultural one.  Or why not pick two different (if not opposing) symbols, to contrast the feelings you get from the exercise?

Seems like that would be safer (from a 'potential scandal' viewpoint) and convey the same lesson effectively (if not more so).

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
Then suppose that the student was a devout Muslim, and complained to the professor and to the university that such a lesson was highly offensive and should not be taught again.


There are ways and means to complain. And we don't know what this student did. If on one hand he did go to complain immediately and got suspended afterwards for it, I completely agree that it's disgraceful. If however he complained publicly about it and tried to twist it into an attack on Islam when he knew it wasn't, and only got suspended for that, he got exactly what he deserved.

What I have issue with is the assumption that the story can be taken at face value. I agree that the events as documented are disgraceful. What I question is whether the events as documented are what occurred. The fact that there was no attempt to mention what the lesson was meant to be teaching is highly suspicious. There was a definite attempt to paint the incident as a deliberate attack on Christianity.

It is possible that this was some kind of ultra-liberal stupidity. There are plenty of liberals who lack brainpower too. But I'm not prepared to call it based on Fox News since they lie so often, and all the other reports are lacking in detail or show significant bias.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 12:43:08 am by karajorma »
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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
The key thing I am missing here is the response of the student itself. If the student is being accused for...
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However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person."
... There might have been a serious problem with the student's ability to give constructive critisism.

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
Yep. That's what made me really suspicious.

On the other hand a couple of weeks ago I posted a thread about a guy getting arrested for rapping to the theme tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, so it's not like stupid overreactions don't happen. But unlike this case the news reporters explained exactly what caused the overreaction. In this case not only have they failed to do this, the evidence they have supplied (that a complaint about stomping was the expected response) is contradictory to what occurred.
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Offline Thaeris

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Re: Student ordered to step on the name of Jesus, refuses, gets suspended
Stupid exaggerations are rampant in the US public education system, though they seem to decline at university level. However, there are certainly possibilities. There's a very low chance you'll actually ever get to know precisely what happened in that classroom to make the student and instructor act in the mannerisms in which they did.
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