Florida Atlantic University has finally backed down and apologized after it tried to bring academic charges against a student who filed a complaint when his teacher told students to write Jesus’ name on a piece of paper and stomp on it.
Professor Deandre Poole, who is also the vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, told students in his intercultural communications class to stomp on Jesus’ name as part of an assignment about cultural symbols.
Student Ryan Rotella, who is Mormon, took offense to the classroom assignment and complained to school officials.
The school issued a statement that didn’t specifically mention the incident but supported academic freedom and the right of professors to offend. As a result of his complaint, Rotella was suspended from the class.
The story soon went viral and brought a lot of heat to bear on Florida Atlantic, which sort of fake apologized late last Friday but then tried to bring academic charges against Rotella and bar him from all classes.
On Tuesday, university officials apologized profusely after Rotella lawyered up with the help of the Liberty Institute.
Hiram Sasser, Rotela’s attorney, said, “They are wiping the record clean for Ryan. They are reinstating him for a plan to complete the course without that professor. … One of the university officials told us lots of people were offended by the assignment and they were very sorry about that.”
It shouldn’t take a national outcry for a university to figure out that an assignment to stomp on Jesus’ name might be religiously offensive.
You’d think academics would realize the historical roots of that assignment in persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan, an incident that led to thousands of deaths.
But maybe that’s asking too much from liberal educators.