Florida student suspended for refusing to 'stomp on Jesus'

Ryan Rotella, a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, claims he was suspended over a class incident in which he refused to stomp on the word ‘Jesus' in class

by The Commentator on 22 March 2013 22:05


Ryan Rotella, a student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, claims he was suspended over a class incident in which he refused to stomp on the word ‘Jesus.’

The exercise, which the university says is in a teacher's manual for the class 'Intercultural Communications', involved Dr. Deandre Poole, a member of the local Democratic Party, writing the word 'Jesus' on a piece of paper and instructing students to stomp on it.

The handbook claims that this is meant to show the importance of symbolism to people, though it goes no way to explaining why Mr. Rotela, a junior, was suspended after complaining about the task.

“I said to the professor, ‘With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I just do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate, I believe it was unprofessional, and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.’…. If you were to stomp on the word ‘Jesus,’ it says that the word has no value," Rotela said.

Two days later, Rotela expressed his concerns to the professor’s supervisor and was subsequently suspended from the class and reportedly told not to return. Rotela states: “I truly see this as, you know, I’m being punished. And… I’m still waiting for an apology from somebody.”

Rotela is a deeply religious Mormon who attends church weekly, while Dr. Poole is vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party - an organisation not without its own record in scandal as of late.

BizPacReview states: “[Dr. Poole's] recent actions add fire to an already-disturbing pattern of hate coming out of the local party.” Its chairman was reportedly forced to resign in September over anti-Christian remarks and, two months earlier, a Democratic Executive Committee member from Palm Beach County resigned following pubic outrage over her anti-Israel comments.

The teacher's manual for the course in 'Intercultural Communications' reads:

“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

Florida Atlantic University also faced another controversy recently, when one its professors claimed crisis actors may have been used in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

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