Comments about ‘Mormon student at Florida Atlantic University punished for refusing to 'stomp on Jesus'’

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Published: Tuesday, March 26 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

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Austin Coug
Pflugerville, TX

There is still a lot of missing information from this whole situation. However, here is what we do know based on other articles i have read:

- The professor chose to use an activity that asked students to write down the name of Jesus and then proceed to step/stomp on it.
- The student was upset about the activity and later went to meet with the supervisor of the professor to complain and was told he was suspended from that class
- The University defended the activity initially stating the professor was merely following what was detailed in the text. There was no apology.
- The Associate Dean of the University levied charges of academic and conduct violations against the student who was told not to attend the class nor to talk to any other students
- The University later provided an apology for the activity and stated it would not be used anymore. It also stated it was not aware of any suspension or punishment and that the student could still attend the class through other means.

Based on this information, we know the University has backpedaled substantially since the story came out. They obviously didn't handle it very well.

Salt Lake City, UT

It never seems to amaze me that institutes of higher education always believe they are the "enlightened" ones and whatever they say is truth and their word is usually law. I don't remember my college years as a time of input but of listening to endless lectures and repeating on tests what I was told. Professors are notorious for pushing the envelope--sometimes for the better and sometimes just to get their agenda across. I don't really see the value of this exercise but I do see a teacher pushing their agenda onto a student that becomes got between standing for their belief and wanting to please the professor, get a good grade and graduate. Kudos to the student and shame on this teacher. Higher Education isn't always the Enlightened as they'd like to think and a little humility would help them see this but that's something they are lacking in.

m.g. scott

I am ashamed for the students in the class who did stomp on Jesus. It was a stupid exercise, but it may say more about the students than the instructor.

Austin Coug
Pflugerville, TX

Here is what we don't know based on the articles i have read:

- Did the professor follow the text instructions? The text says there should be some discussion if some are hesitant to step on the paper. We really have no idea what else took place in that class.
- Was this student the only one that was offended and spoke up? No other students have spoken out although the attorney for the student said the school admitted other students were also offended.
- Was the student a jerk in how he complained to the professor or to the superiors?
- Was the student merely told not to return to the class because of the issue at hand and the student interpreted this as a "suspension"?

Unless more information is leaked from other students, it is really only a he said/they said situation. It would be very interesting to know what actually took place from other students. At the end of the day, I get the pupose of the activity (to create discussion), however, there are certainly better ways to accomplish those purposes.

life as we know it

Once it made the news, then they thought it necessary to apologize and call it wrong. Like in most cases, a wrong is not a wrong unless you get caught and it makes you look bad. It is sad that wrong is not wrong and right is not good, whether anyone knows or not. The old "CYA" seems to dominant ones action.

Lightening Lad
Austin , TX

Isn't it odd that the sanctimonious university with it's great "core values" caved once the media got hold of the story. Now they are falling all over themselves to apologize, the governor is involved, and every Berg in America has heard the story. The instructor was reported to head the county Democratic party, don't know if their is a link there (:,) I can't for the life of me see how ones education could be advanced by such a stunt.

terra nova
Park City, UT

It took courage not to simply "follow through" and do what the professor told him to do.

There are numerous studies following just how far subordinates will go when instructed by so-called "authority figures." (Witness the inexplicable success of the Nazi regime in eradicating Jews, genocide in Serbia and Rowanda, the Japanese rape of Nan King, the list goes on and on and unfortunately, we Americans are not unsullied as the history of the American Indian nations will attest.)

Study after study confirms that most people willingly relinquish and surrender their sense of what is right or wrong when someone "in charge" tells them to do something they would ordinarily never do.

It is good that this young man stood up for his belief, but wouldn't it have been better to have also stayed and discussed his decision with his classmates?

Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the class atmosphere was so hostile that it would been like singing "Hava Nagila" (a Jewish folk song that means "let us rejoice") in a Munich beer hall in 1939. But I would like to think it was not that way.

There was probably more happening here than is being reported.

Salt Lake City, UT


It is amazing what happens when one actually reads what happened and doesn't make assumptions. As for the Muhammad thing, you mis-read the statements here also. They are only asking a "what if". Yes the Muslims would be just as offended as Christians would. That is where the exercise was, as you point out, supposed to move on to the power of symbols.
Your mis-reading or lack of research on what actually happened and your assumptions are obvious too. He was not asked to leave by the instructor. Perhaps you have a negative attitude towards LDS people that makes you jump to conclusions and you went off on a self-rightous tirade with your "guess" about "reading between the lines". Do you see how the shoe fits?

For those who missed it, the student was given a written suspension from the school for protesting up the administration ladder.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

Classic example of University tolerance. They will tolerate any type of lifestyle as long as you're not religious.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

I live in the Seattle area. Many of my coworkers have no problem with a professor imposing such requirements on students. There was a professor at a Utah College that showed gay porn to his class (special meeting, not required but roll was taken). My coworkers had no problem with that. The same professor required his classes to write a paper on "Gay Marriage, Pro or Con" Those who wrote against Gay marriage failed the class. This was an ethics class. You had to take ethics to graduate and he was the only one to teach ethics at the institution.

You had to lie to pass an ethics class.

I wonder how they would feel if they were required to write papers supporting things that they opposed, or the converse?
Should pro labor students be required to write pro business papers?
Should environmentalist students be required to write about environmental excesses?
Should Gay students be forced to write papers opposing Gay marriage?

Many professors that that their academic freedom gives them the right to destroy the freedom of their students.

Utter hypocrisy.

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

This could go a long way towards convincing some that Mormons are Christians.

Columbus, OH


Right, I don't see how I misread the comments re: Mohammed. People asked why they used Jesus instead of Mohammed, I answered: Because the students were likely predominantly Christian, not Muslim.

Also, he did protest to the teacher about the exercise, and from some reports, she asked him to leave. That's not mutually exclusive to his being given a written suspension from the school. Truth is, we still don't know why he was given the suspension, because we're only getting his side of the story, and the university is not allowed by law to comment on the details. Students are not suspended for reporting what they believe is inappropriate. Much more likely is that the conversation between him and the professor got heated, and the university asked him not to go to class while they investigate. His suspension would have been based on interviews with the professor and fellow students. Does anybody really believe he protested to the professor by saying "With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate."?

Zona Zone
Mesa, AZ

There is a big difference between this happening at a private university, where freedom of association, and this happening at a public university where his First Amendment religious rights are at stake.

Salt Lake City, UT

Why do you assume one adult speaking to another is impolite..preconcieved opinion? Yes, I actually believe him. Don't you behave like an adult?
I did not say he didn't protest... in fact his protest to him is quoted by you. As I have read reports from many sources and none so far as I have read say there was any request to leave or even an argument beyond his disagreement with proceeding I can't respond...name a source please.
We do know why he was suspend because the suspension letter is public and came from the school. It also ordered him not to talk to other students or faculty.
As the school has acknowledge the professor was wrong, that other students also complained and that the course outline was not followed (NBC News) I think your assumption about the student still reflects a prejudice you accuse him of having.

Zona Zone
Mesa, AZ

The chief omission in this article is that the professor is a Democractic operative. I think it speaks to anti-Christian bigotry coalescing right now in the American left--something that we Christians need to be gravely concerned about

Columbus, OH


From the source you cite, it mentions that he was told not to go to class or contact any other students until them met with him. But contrary to the story you're selling: "Dr. Charles Brown, FAU's senior vice president of student affairs, said that Rotela was never up for punishment for refusing to participate in the exercise, however." Again, whatever happened in the class prompted the university to separate the parties until they could complete an investigation. This is equivalent to police separating all involved parties in an incident until they have a chance to interview them and take statements. Everyone seems to be upset that the university actually took time to carry out an investigation, rather than accepting the student's story wholesale.

As to my preconceived notions, don't you think your bias against "liberal professors" is showing quite strongly? I've dealt with kids this age a lot, sometimes after arrests. They all insist that they addressed the policeman "With all due respect to your authority, sir, I wasn't speeding." People generally don't speak in legalese, except in formal statements.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

"Yo, my peeps all be conformin' cuz it's cool to be a Mormon!"

West Jordan, UT

I was enrolled in a Spanish 1 course at Salt Lake Community College. The professor was openly hostile about the Mormon church, and spent twenty minutes of our first class on a rampage against the church. I sat stunned as I listened to his hate filled speech.

I just wanted to learn Spanish.

Anchorage, AK

In the early 80's, in an Alaskan college, my Alaska history instructor for some reason, erroneously referenced a tidbit of lower 48 LDS history, of which I refuted, after couple minutes of discussion I simple backed off quietly shaking my head no. I few weeks later, he conveniently "lost" my final examine, and my efforts to get a retake was ignored and never responded too. In the end I received an in-complete for the course.
I sure wish, I had the same courage this young man had. Kudos to Rotela!

Springville, Ut

Re: MTDoc

I have not stated that I am liberal, conservative, or something else. For you to assume as such is a large leap on your part and quite presumptuous. You have also implied that I am not Christian. I am, though I don't know why my religious beliefs should be considered relevant to the discussion. Finally, I didn't state anywhere in this discussion that I was for or against the act of the teacher. My comment simply pointed out the duplicity made by some posters who have stated they are conservative.

Have a nice day; hopefully you don't attempt to disparage anyone else without evidence.

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