FAU moves to punish ‘Stomp Jesus’ student for speaking out

FAUIn what has become a fast-moving story marked by a series of confusing decisions by Florida Atlantic University, the school informed the student involved in the controversial “stomp Jesus” assignment that he was being brought up on academic charges Monday, then reversed course and cleared him.

After a massive national outcry, FAU dropped all charges and issued an apology to student Ryan Rotela, Fox News Radio reported.

“There will be no punishment,” said Hiram Sasser, Rotela’s attorney. “They are wiping the record clean for Ryan. They are reinstating him for a plan to complete the course without that professor.”

In what was seen as a stunning development, the university appeared to be punishing Rotela after he drew attention to the controversial classroom assignment. Rotella was informed earlier Monday that he was being brought up on academic charges and could no longer attend class.

The charges leveled against Rotela by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams included violating the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, and threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct that 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.

Rotela set off a firestorm last week when he complained that FAU professor Deandre Poole offended his religious beliefs when he instructed his intercultural communications class to stomp on a piece of paper with “Jesus” written on it.

With national outrage mounting, FAU apologized Friday and said the assignment would not be used again, adding that “no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the university as a result of any activity that took place during this class.”

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at the Liberty Institute, told Fox News the university’s behavior is “outlandish” and called its 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.”

BizPac Review was the first to point out that Poole is vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, a fact that continues to get little notice from the media.

Poole’s controversial religious affront comes on the heels of other outrageious behavior from county Democrtic Party leadership. Last year, for example, then-Chairman Mark Siegel was forced out after telling a reporter at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that pro-Israel Christians want to see Jews “slaughtered.”

Rotela told Fox News he has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received, calling the incident “one of the best and worst moments of my life.”

Read Fox News Radio report here

Tom Tillison


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