Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stepping On Jesus Part 2

It seems sometimes people and/or organizations do the right thing.
On Saturday, I posted an article about a student at Florida Atlantic University who was suspended from a class for refusing to participate in a class exercise in which students were instructed by the professor to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and step on it.  Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, found the assignment offensive, refused to participate and later reported his concerns to the professor’s supervisor.  Later in the day he learned he had been suspended from the class and faced possible expulsion from school.

After a national outcry, FAU has issued a formal apology to Rotela saying they realize the exercise was offensive to many students and that they are “deeply sorry” for events as they happened.  Rotela will be able to finish the class with a different instructor.

“First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for any hurt regarding this incident, any insensitivity that may have been seen by the community and the greater community at large,” said Corey King, Dean of Students. “We are deeply sorry.”

In my post the other day I said I doubted an assignment like that would have been in the actual course curriculum but I may be wrong about that.  According to an article I read today, the assignment may have come straight from the book.

“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper,” the lesson reads. “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.”

It seems to me if the professor didn’t use Rotela’s refusal to step on the paper to begin a discussion then she failed at using the lesson properly. 

King said it was obvious the lesson caused “hurt and pain” within the community and within the university’s population.

“As a result, we feel it’s necessary to no longer offer this assignment or activity,” he said. “We did not anticipate the hurt and pain it would cause in the community.

Score one for religious freedom at a university…

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