Florida Atlantic University has apologized for the actions of one of its instructors after he allegedly forced students in a class to denigrate the name of Jesus. According to the Miami Herald, in early March Dr. Deandre Poole, who teaches Intercultural Communications at the university, directed students in the class to take out a sheet of paper and write “Jesus” in bold letters and place the paper on the floor. He then ordered the the class to stomp on the paper — and Jesus' name.
One of the students, junior Ryan Rotela, said that when he refused to comply he was kicked out of the class. Rotela, who is a devout Mormon, explained his refusal to obey Poole, saying that “anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value.” Rotela said that when he went to university officials to complain, he was summarily suspended from the class and told to have no contact with other students in the class until the situation was resolved.
Noemi Marin, director of the university's school of communication and multimedia studies, defended Poole's actions, telling Fox News that “as with any academic lesson, the exercise was meant to encourage students to view issues from many perspectives, in direct relation with the course objectives.” Marin added that “while at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.”
The university noted that the stomping activity comes straight out the of the book used in Poole's course. In fact, the teacher's manual for that textbook, entitled Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, includes the following lesson plan, apparently designed to spark students to consider the power of symbols in culture:
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