Mormon student at Florida Atlantic University punished for refusing to 'stomp on Jesus'

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  • Spikey Layton, UT
    April 2, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    I couldn't step on it either---as a Latter-day Saint, you could ask me to write "Koran" on a piece of paper and stomp on it---I wouldn't do that either.

    Messed up example of teaching if you ask me.

  • Pendergast Salt Lake City, UT
    March 31, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    re: BrentBot

    I'm curious as to the professors religious beliefs.

    At m.g. scott

    I don't disagree. I wonder how were business majors who are learning to do 'anything in pursuit of the almighty dollar'?

  • BASavage Orem, UT
    March 31, 2013 2:55 p.m.

    I too have read several accounts of this incident. One even quoted from the instruction manual for the class. The student was infact suspended from the class, not from the school. This professor has a reputation for doing things like this. He should be removed from his assignment as professor. College is to help a person think, not to have their beliefs made a mockery.

  • Y-Ask-Y? Provo, UT
    March 30, 2013 10:50 p.m.


    "For all those who claimed he was not punished, did you not read the article before writing. Or do you not believe that being suspended from school is a punishment? Would really like to understand your thinking."

    Yes, I read the article. And I also read a number of other articles in other news sources, and the student was NOT punished for anything that went on in this classroom exercise.

    Check your sources, then apply some critical thinking.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    March 29, 2013 6:14 p.m.

    I thought the University's revised comment; in which an 'apology' was offered was interesting. They assured everyone that they have core values that they hold to - though apparently not unless someone calls them on them --- other wise, it seems that they are willing to push the limits and then hold out on a bluff, which this brave student called.

    What I find tragic is that many institutions in this country really don't have core values any more. They may claim they do and point to a written statement, but more often than not, many groups are willing to surrender their values in an attempt to capitalize on a new trend that looks appealing; if not promising, or in an attempt to please the crowd.

    We should all do better at truly supporting those who do indeed have values and live them regardless of the current climate.

  • justmesal MOUNTAIN VIEW, WY
    March 29, 2013 3:57 p.m.

    For all those who claimed he was not punished, did you not read the article before writing. Or do you not believe that being suspended from school is a punishment? Would really like to understand your thinking.

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    March 29, 2013 12:20 p.m.

    It appears the professor gets his curriculum from Michael Scott of The Office.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    March 28, 2013 6:39 p.m.

    "I think that it is interesting that their wording was " any offense we may have caused" as if they didn't recognize that it was offensive."

    Hmnn. . . That's interesting, because I don't see the exercise as offensive at all. And I don't think the University had anything to apologize for. But of course now days everyone is expected to apologize, aren't they?

    Yep, we cater to those most easily offended now days.

  • dennyofoz Australia, 00
    March 28, 2013 6:29 p.m.

    Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the event, to use a name sacred to any religion or group of people is disrespectful an inappropriate. Wonder what the reaction would have been if the name selected had been Buddha or Allah? If there was a point to be made by the exercise then using a less sensitive word would have been more appropriate.

  • kaniela nashville , TN
    March 28, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    I think that it is interesting that their wording was " any offense we may have caused" as if they didn't recognize that it was offensive. They were still not taking responsibility for their actions.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    March 28, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    In my religion, we believe Jesus guides our footsteps, and "stomping" on a picture of him or his written name is a sacred rite we go through each morning to remind us to "walk in paths of righteousness".

    So why is my sacred religious rite being turned into a horrible thing by this Mormon student? That is offensive, and disrespects my religious freedom!

    Shame on this student for his narrow-minded views about my religion. He should have more respect for the religious beliefs of others.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 28, 2013 7:38 a.m.

    Fourth try

    "Whenever I travel to Republican events around the state, the first question is almost always, “So tell me, is it hard to be a Republican at Berkeley?” They assume that my daily life consists of constant liberal brainwashing from professors, hostility from other students and scoffing from administrators.

    I’ve experienced all of that during the last four years at Berkeley, but that hasn’t represented the majority of my interactions on this campus. Instead, I find that most students and professors are genuinely curious to hear a minority point of view. They appreciate the opportunity to hear the conservative position that so many in the nation hold but so few on this campus publicly confess.

    One of the biggest problems in American politics is that voters have self-segregated. Democrats live in the urban areas on the coast, Republicans in rural areas inland. As a result, most voters only talk to people who believe as they do. They don’t understand the perspective of those who believe differently and thus punish their elected officials for compromising."

    (Andy Nevis, a political science major, was director of the UC Berkeley Republicans 2011-2012)

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    March 27, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    I am the biggest fan of multiculturalism and diversity. There is a lot that we can learn by looking over cultural divides. There is a lot that I have learned.

    Having said that, this incident illustrates how inadequate diversity teaching is in the US. The instructor wants to show how we need to be sensitive when communicating over a cultural and he does it by an offensive display. The fact that he choose an example that would be offensive to Christians illustrates that he did know that it was offensive but he is aligning himself with current political dogma.

    Diversity is good, but we need to sit down and have a long discussion about how to improve it, because what is being done is not effective.

  • JayTee Sandy, UT
    March 27, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    High time for some faculty and staff to be summarily terminated. I don't care if the over-schooled instructor has twenty Ph.D.'s . . . he need to be forced to go out into the real world and find some gainful employment.

  • L Central, Utah
    March 27, 2013 7:49 p.m.

    Had there been papers for each with Jesus, Martin Luther, King James * Budda etc. ans students asked to stomp on each, I wonder what the reaction would be. Should it have been not to stomp on anyone. What if Joseph Smith & Hitler were added?

    Meanwhile outside the classroom we share "jokes" about others and seldom does anyone protest.

  • jbp Yorba Linda, CA
    March 27, 2013 6:07 p.m.

    There are many arguments that this was a teaching exercise and the bigger picture or the lesson learned justifies the technique. First, this is still offensive to many christians by calling Jesus a symbol in society. While non-believers may see it that, believers see Jesus as a person who is the savior of the world. Any disrespect to him or his name regardless of the lesson being taught is unacceptable.

    Also, just because you can create a situation that teaches a point that instructor would like students to see, does not make it appropriate or acceptable behavior. For example, would it be acceptable to ask students to remove their clothes in class to see how many would refuse or would remove their clothes to show how different cultures view the nature of covering up or not, as many native villages still wear very little, or to show the effect of pornography on our culture. While that may teach to a point of view, it is certainly unacceptable. Any argument that such practices are okay because a lesson being taught, is short sighted at best!!

  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    March 27, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    This kind of process was precisely how the Japanese authorities tried to exterminate Christianity in Japan back in the 16th Century. Perople suspected of being Christians were told to stomp on a cross, or an icon of Jesus or of Mary, mother of Jesus. Those who refused to do so were then punished, up to and including death.

    Could a professor tell his students that they have to be baptized in class? Or take communion in another religious denomination? Or prostrate themselves toward Mecca and repeat an Islamic prayer? Or on the other hand draw a cartoon that insults Mohammad or ridicules Native American religion or Buddhism? Would a Hindu student be required to eat meat?

    Some professors are on an ego trip when it comes to their power over students. Rather than see themselves as serving and helping the students, they see the students as being pawns in their own game of accumulating academic power and prestige. Rather than being scholars, such professors are closed-minded bigots.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    March 27, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    It isn't reported what the other students' reactions were, but this would (maybe was meant to be) the beginning of some great discussions of an individual's response in a group, the reactions of people to the group behavior when their personal values are not shared by the group and what it means to follow personal values over following the group, or how an authority figure might affect a group member's behavior. I'm just throwing out ideas here, since the professor might simply be anti-Christian and like a lot of people, just not be able to see things from the other side--very human, but not where a professor should but his or her personal self. Until we have the rest of the story (apologies to Paul Harvey) we should take a step back and not judge anyone--or their behavior.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    March 27, 2013 4:57 p.m.

    15 years ago at the U of U, a history professor openly attacked the LDS endowment claiming that it had no "religious value." I was there.

    In many academic circles (not all) there is an anti-religious bias that runs deep. Take care where you send your children to school.

  • bob j Maryborough, 00
    March 27, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    In the final 'Book of Life', that young man will receive a big tick of approval. He certainly gets one from me.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    March 27, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    What if it had been the 'Prophet Muhammed', the university would probably be in flames at this time, and the Mullahs in the entire middle east, would have the entire staff and faculty under death sentences, and, another few US embassies would be in ashes. Interesting thought, is it not?

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    March 27, 2013 3:24 p.m.


    Thank you for educating me as to my personal political belief. I was lost without your input.

    Lost, thank you for making my point for me. I don't think he should just leave; I think he should challenge the issue and should defend his position. My point was that some conservative posters are duplicitous; they claim that gays, liberals, non-Mormons, etc. should all leave places where they feel they are mistreated, but claim some sort of needed protection for this young adult. No one is entitled to attend the best university, or any university, that has their program of choice; otherwise there would be endless lawsuits by entering freshman who were just rejected from their pick of schools.

    At the end of the day, I believe all parties have overreacted in this case. This is a media firestorm because it's a perfect story for both political sides to use as propaganda to further their own interests.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    As a police officer for thirty years I met many polite and respectful people who wanted to disagree with me. We parted company fully respectful of each other even though we may have disagreed. Why don't you believe this is possible?
    As to investigative proceedures I concur. But the letter orders him to appear before a student council for his post incident conduct charging him with violations of the student conduct. This is not's where they hand out punishment for "charges".
    As to "liberal professors" I have said nothing about them so I don't get your inference. Besides which I have two liberal arts degrees and have been an acting "liberal professor" and have wonderful relationships with most "liberal professors." I have spent most of the last 15 years working with kids this age. I disagree with your attitude towards them as a whole. Me thinks you doth protest to much!

  • Bomar22 Roberts, ID
    March 27, 2013 2:58 p.m.


    Methinks that you are too far to the left to realize it. I am sure that Mr Rotela was not aware of the exercise prior to it being assigned. Furthermore, it is probably one of those "required classes". I would suggest, next time, Dr Prejudice use Mohammed or copies of the Koran in this exercise and see what the reaction to that would be.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    The school did not apologize until the incident was made public. I doubt they are sorry it happened, just that it was made public.

    Go somewhere else? What if this university has the best program for his desired field and this was a required general ed class? Should he just walk away? This is a public funded school; by allowing them to openly denigrate religion, you are violating the 1st amendment.

    But you are probably correct that he should go elsewhere; the school will likely find some subtle way to retaliate.

    not go back – so get an “incomplete” or “F” for the class and forfeit the tuition and lose the time already spent?

    Regardless of whether or not it was voluntary, why is such a bigoted exercise allowed in a publicly funded university?

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    March 27, 2013 2:45 p.m.

    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.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    March 27, 2013 2:32 p.m.

    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!

  • Anne26 West Jordan, UT
    March 27, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    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.

  • UteNationAlum Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 27, 2013 1:44 p.m.

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

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 27, 2013 12:45 p.m.


    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.

  • Zona Zone Mesa, AZ
    March 27, 2013 12:27 p.m.

    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

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 12:24 p.m.

    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 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
    March 27, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    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.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 27, 2013 11:42 a.m.


    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."?

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    March 27, 2013 11:40 a.m.

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

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    March 27, 2013 11:35 a.m.

    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.

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 11:25 a.m.

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

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 11:13 a.m.


    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.

  • terra nova Park City, UT
    March 27, 2013 11:04 a.m.

    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.

  • Lightening Lad Austin , TX
    March 27, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    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.

  • life as we know it SANDY, UT
    March 27, 2013 10:30 a.m.

    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.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    March 27, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    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.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    March 27, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    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.

  • SAMMOM Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    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.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    March 27, 2013 9:58 a.m.

    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.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    March 27, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    Situations like this show the hypocracy of many on the left. What if the paper said "Mohammed" or "Black People" or "Jews" or "Women"? There would be outrage and that professor would run out of town on a rail. What the purpose of the exercise was has little relevance. How many Christians stepped on the paper because they are intimidated by other students or feared getting a bad grade from the professor.

    It is ironic that there are protections in the workplace against a "hostile work environment." However, students who are far more at the mercy of the professor, have virtually no protection. There are not many professors who truly welcome open debate. It is agree with them or suffer the consequences. "Academic freedom" applies to professors, but students have virtually no rights - unless the professor is dumb enough to make a sexist or racial comment - in which case the professor will be promptly disciplined.

    This is not teaching, it is bullying, and this professor and the assistant dean should be out on the behinds. The same should happen to any other professor who tried the same thing with the paper reading "Mohammed", "Buddha", "Black People", "Jews" or "Women".

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 27, 2013 9:46 a.m.

    Everyone asking why not use Mohammad for the exercise, the answer is quite simple. Because the point of the exercise was to get the students to think why they couldn't step on the paper. For the exercise to work, the students need to be predominantly Christian--a Christian will not feel the same sense of conflict if Mohammad is written on the paper.

    You have completely missed the point. The teacher was not trying to get the students to disavow Christianity and stomp on Jesus. She was trying to get students to think about why a scrap of paper with a name holds such symbolic value in society. The assignment assumes, in fact, that students WON'T step on the name.

    To me, this sounds like a student looking to get offended. There seems to be a high incidence within the LDS church of members wanting to be persecuted, to feel like they're standing up to something. My guess, reading between the lines, he went on a self-righteous tirade and was asked to leave for that, not for refusing to "stomp on Jesus."

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    March 27, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    The student was suspended from class for going to the dean and complaining about the activity. The institution claims that he was not suspended for anything that happened in class. Evidence indicates that this statement is misleading at best. Had he been suspended for his conduct when he met with the dean, the punishment would be suspension from the university instead of suspension from one particular class. Surely, he would not have been suspended had Muhammad or Martin Luther King been written on the paper. In fact, it would be likely that the professor would be facing the discipline.

    I agree with "Civil", who recommended you do a search for and read this article published by Forbes: FAU College Student Who Didn't Want To Stomp On 'Jesus' Runs Afoul of Speech Code. The article, written by an atheist, outlines how mainstream academia lives by a double standard when they support discrimination against Christians that they wouldn't tolerate were it directed towards another religious or ethnic group.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    March 27, 2013 9:17 a.m.

    If the student was asked to step on the name of Muhammad, Buddha, or Mahatma Gandhi, I venture to say that the politically correct community would be up in arms.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    March 27, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Funny it took the University a few days to "recognize" all religions and faiths. Disappointed it wasn't automatic. I be this student won't get an A out of the class.

    March 27, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    Claudio, I suspect your reaction would be totally different if a Muslim was told to stomp on the Koran at BYU (which of course wouldn't happen). You liberals are all for something that tear at the core values of this country (Christian principles), but sure can't take any offense to alternative values.

  • Eliot Santaquin, UT
    March 27, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Why do so many people become inflamed over a newspaper article that may not be entirely accurate? I am always skeptical of news reports that consist entirely of a summary of information gathered by a different news agency. It has the feel of gossip to me. I have some questions about the incident and those involved although I doubt they will be answered. Did any other students besides the subject of this article complain about the incident? Have any other students in the class been interviewed to learn their views and perspectives? Were there others in the class who refused to stomp on the name of Jesus but did not take their story to the media? Is this the first time this exercise has been done in class or has the instructor used it in previous semesters? What are the religious beliefs of the instructor? Is he Christian, Muslim, non-believer? If the university has apologized to the student and any others who might have been offended by the incident, should we feel compelled to accept the apology and move on?

  • LVIS Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 8:17 a.m.

    What would have been the outcry if they were asked to write "Mohammed" on the paper and stomp on it? Go to a different university if you don't like it? Hardly. Talk about duplicity.

  • vdubbin' Ogden, UT
    March 27, 2013 7:54 a.m.

    There are some interesting comments by people deriding conservatives on this article, and noting the "duplicity" involved. Perhaps you can tell us how we should be happy about treading the name of our Savior underfoot while embracing gay marriage and other things that go against our values. You really aren't any more tolerant than anyone else; you just take issue with conservative, traditional values.
    This comment thread is like the university. If you don't like what's going on, go somewhere else. It seems incredible to me that "progressives" can, in one breath, castigate us for holding to our beliefs as well as for not embracing theirs. It's not us being reactionary or them being more forward-looking. It's simply a group of people trying to shame others for having a set of values that doesn't change with the cause du jour...

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 27, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    This shouldn't even be a point of debate because it never should have taken place. The fact that this even happened in a college classroom is an indication of just far we have sunk as a culture. It's just disgusting. How much time do we have left before we completely go over the cliff?

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 27, 2013 7:23 a.m.

    Juan Williams, a commentator on FOX News wrote an opinion article about this incident and clarified some of the issues. The university included these remarks in their web posted apology, "Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate." Moreover, the university denies that the student was suspended because of this episode stating, "... while student privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific student at the University, we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class.”

    And so it appears that someone, either the student or those reporting on the incident, is not being honest. Of course the right wing media is focusing on this issue as another example of the so-called war on Christianity. But with the evidence of dishonest remarks I'm wondering who should really be the subject of our disdain. And when will Christians get over their persecution complex and start doing the work that Jesus asked them to do?

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    March 27, 2013 7:15 a.m.

    Obviously the textbook has a bias.

  • tenx Santa Clara, UT
    March 27, 2013 7:16 a.m.

    Substitute the word Jesus with ZERO or Mohammed and let the "exercise in advanced nonsense" continue. Private or public this undoubtedly tenured professor is only trying to get under someones skin. The weird do have control of what is taught to our students and future leaders and in my opinion it ain't good. You're fired Teach.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    March 27, 2013 7:02 a.m.

    So how come no one has called for the suspension or firing of this instructor? I for one, were I in a position to do so, would at the very least suspend this instructor. Mainly for being stupid. I'd most likely fire her also. Whatever point she was trying to make has backfired and frankly has no place in an academic setting. If she doesn't like Jesus, then try to make the point in another way. She's there to teach, not shock.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    March 27, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    So, the article states he was suspended - but later states he was told not to go back to the class he had issues with.

    There is a big difference between being suspended and being told not to attend a class where you are having a dispute with the teacher.

    Important facts are definitely missing from the story.

  • SJHPenn Collegeville, PA
    March 27, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    As a professor at an East Coast institution of higher education who has witnessed religious bigotry occur in academies far too often, I can tell you that this young man is very courageous and correct in his behavior. Students in the academy have an obligation to protect those revered as religious leaders, whether they be Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha. What this professor did was shamefully wrong. College teachers are not to proselytize their views nor to attack the opinions of students, especially those held sacred. In addition, the first university statement was indeed a punishment of the student. The professor needs a serious reprimand and should be pulled from the course so that this young man and other men and women in the classroom have their beliefs protected. While it is legitimate to challenge ones belief through a course of proper inquiry, the actions of this professor assumes there is no need for honest inquiry and that questions regarding religious belief have been settled. Indeed, in far too many institutions in America, views are protected from almost every realm, but religious belief is often denied its due respect.

    Three cheers for this young man for defending religious belief!

  • KTC John Wetumpka, AL
    March 27, 2013 6:16 a.m.

    Since when did stomping on a piece of symbolically inscribed paper constitute "dialogue and debate?" There is no two-way exchange of ideas in such an exercise. That is not an intellectual or academic event. It is called indoctrination. The assignment clearly revealed the agenda of the professor and trampled on the rights of the students, rights that extend beyond religious rights. The professor should not engage in such a practice even if he required the students to write "Satan" or "Mother" or "President Obama" or anything else on a piece of paper. Stomping is a physical exercise for the gymnasium.

  • Stgeorgebyu St. Georg, UT
    March 27, 2013 5:58 a.m.

    Ok all you "enlightened" folks out there, answer me this. Why did the professor not use Mohomad to stomp on? Yea that's right, if he had he would probably have death threats now. But its ok if you disparage Christians in such a way now days, right? The ones taking the side of the professor and the college most likely have some hate issues over religion and love this kind of thing. I am sure you're argument is I don't know you, but really I do know your kind.

  • BrentBot Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 5:52 a.m.

    No state-supported university should hire a Democratic activist to teach a class in "inter-cultural communication". That's just asking that the class become a propaganda for a political party.

  • TA1 Alexandria, VA
    March 27, 2013 5:28 a.m.

    Mostly I am liberal - but here I will say that the University, and all of it's staff involved were just wrong. Period!

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 27, 2013 4:56 a.m.

    The story has been well covered and if you just google it, several of the article detail the lesson plan the professor had for this exercise. I get the message he was making.... perhaps not the methodology to get to that point.

    As to the "punishment", I don't think anyone said the kid was suspended from school.... but per this piece, simply asked to not return to this class - suspended from this course. Or at least that is my reading of it. I get why the department would do that - remove contention from the class - and I get why the kid would be upset by that as well. He as an academic plan, and dropping from the class would upset this.

    I wouldn't want my kid taking this class. The professor is obviously pretty full of himself. At the same time, I am tired of people insisting on apologies. Grow up. Kudos for doing the right thing.... but you know you did the right thing, so just move on and keep doing the right thing. What's an apology going to do for you. Show you are the bigger man and keep moving forward.

  • Normal Guy Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 3:25 a.m.

    It might be in a textbook but any professor should see it's an awful exercise. Write the NAME of Jesus and then have kids step on it to show the importance of symbols? What possible purpose does that serve? The students don't realize that many people revere Jesus until this exercise is done?

    Sounds to me like the professor used a dumb suggestion from a textbook and then carried it out to an extreme and ran into a kid who wouldn't back down from his beliefs.

  • Go Big Blue!!! Bountiful, UT
    March 27, 2013 2:35 a.m.

    I had a professor for international law in graduate school that seldom completed a sentence without profanity. He loved using all of the most offensive words. Most students in the class seemed entertained. Thursday's class was usually held at Sholze Beer Garden where the professor bought pitchers of beer for the students. Needless to say a Mormon kid from Utah stuck out with his glass of soft drink.

    When you are put in an uncomfortable situation you have to stay true to your values. Most people with different values will eventually come to respect you.

  • SammyB Provo, UT
    March 27, 2013 1:41 a.m.

    I'm disappointed by some of these comments. I've read other articles on this incident. The professor missed the point of the exercise that was to open discussion and not use force. Why do some of you believe Ryan was lying? I've been in a similar situation. There is a lot of hate toward Christians among many professors.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 1:27 a.m.

    So in other words, the D-News "reporter" got this story totally wrong. Why am I not surprised? You know, I am old enough to remember when the Deseret News was a newspaper that actually had integrity. It's been very sad to watch the decline of this paper.

  • unaccustomed Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 1:25 a.m.

    How would this story have gone if the professor asked the students to do this exercise with the name MUHAMMAD?

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    March 27, 2013 12:52 a.m.

    I suggest y'all google the Forbes article on the incident:

    "FAU College Student Who Didn't Want To Stomp On 'Jesus' Runs Afoul of Speech Code - Forbes"

  • Red Headed Stranger Billy Bobs, TX
    March 26, 2013 10:53 p.m.


    I don't understand what is hard to understand. If you don't pay taxes, you go to jail. We give up our funds, but we have a right to comment how they are spent. How much or how little a person pays in taxes is irrelevant. That is the perceived contract that we have with the government. As an employee of "the people", the professor especially should act in accordance with the Constitution. The young Mormon paid taxes. The young Mormon paid his tuition. When he complained about the content of the class, he was punished, suspended. I'm sure that if he had returned to the class that he paid for he would have been arrested for trespassing. Some great citadel of learning. They are so afraid of their intellectual position that they punish anyone who dare speak out against them. It isn't a private school.

    What silly things colleges put into their curriculum. No wonder developing countries who don't have time for such buffoonery are overtaking us. All because "everyone needs a college education" but won't study engineering, science, or technology. Instead we are stuck with philosophy, communications, conflict resolution and photography majors.

  • UteMiguel Go Utes, CA
    March 26, 2013 10:48 p.m.

    Nothing wrong with a teacher trying to perform the exercise. What is insane is that the student was suspended for not complying. The suspension was an arbitrary abuse of small minded people.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    March 26, 2013 10:38 p.m.

    When you take a college class, you don't always know what may occur in a classroom. How was the student to know that his teacher would do such a thing? The teacher was completely out of line and should suffer consequences for their terrible judgement.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    March 26, 2013 9:59 p.m.

    @ Claudio

    I'm certain he paid tuition. If you want to terminate him from the class, fine. Refund his tuition. What if the professor asked a student to hold a knife next to another student's throat---would that be OK just to see whay they would do? Some things are just over the line and this "object lesson on values" was ome of them. The professor isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer (punn intended in above discussion) and the university only apologized after it hit the press---not until. Pretty typical institutional behavior, sadly.

  • cindyacre Shelley, ID
    March 26, 2013 8:51 p.m.

    "Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse. While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate."

    How was this "exercise" intended to "pursue knowledge" (stomping on revered image on a paper?)and engage in open discourse (when there was no "open discourse" encouraged but the instructors? I can only ascertain that the "knowledge" being pursued was one really of contempt towards that revered person, and the discourse was actually closed - or zero. What was attemping to be taught? Contempt.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    March 26, 2013 8:38 p.m.

    Counter Intelligence,

    A little more digging is required before you (and the student) jump to unsupported conclusions.

    "Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate."

    The university denies that the student was suspended because of this episode. In a statement to Fox News, they said: "While we do not comment on personnel matters, and while student privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific student at the University, we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class."

    The author as well as you should do your homework and combine it with some critical thinking.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    March 26, 2013 8:37 p.m.

    Some of the dumbest people on this planet are teachers and educators. I'm so glad my kids are through with public schools. I might also add that some of the very best people in my kids' lives were teachers and educators and for them I am grateful.

    As I read the article, I didn't see the part where the teacher asked the students to debate the subject - only the part where the student was told to stomp on the paper with the name Jesus on the floor. I also read the part that the student, who had paid money to attend the university, was suspended for reporting that the activity was offensive, insensitive and unwelcoming of Christians. He was told when reporting the incident that he didn't have to return to class. It's ok for the school to pocket the student's money and cause him to start over in another class, paying for it a second time. If he had asked the student to stomp on the Koran, the teacher would have been fired for violating the values of the institution.

    Now THAT is duplicity at its finest; best experienced in schools.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 26, 2013 8:03 p.m.

    The version of the story I read was different on this Deseret News website. My prior comments were about the story and did not indicate any suspension.

    I am all for supporting people sticking up for their beliefs. I am also for people not using their religious beliefs to persecute others. I hope the University will curb acts such as asking people to stomp on things such as the name of Jesus but the full story is not being shown here, lots of details are left out.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 26, 2013 8:04 p.m.

    I have been on both sides of the debate, I have been persecuted by people of faith and I see attacks on religion.

    If he is indeed suspended, he needs proper legal representation. Get the situation resolved.

    For those of you who think religious people don't do their fair share of persecution just because they are Christian, wake up and evaluate how you really treat people.

  • tlaulu Taylorsville, Utah
    March 26, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    I'm sure there were many other supposedly christian students in the class. What did they do or their reaction to the exercise. Anyways, great job Rotela. I'm very proud of you.

  • Two For Flinching Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:49 p.m.

    The assignment sounds perfectly reasonable, and Rotela was the perfect example for defining the importance of symbols in culture. I think he is blowing this out of proportion to try and look like a victim and get some much needed attention.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    March 26, 2013 7:41 p.m.

    Re: procuradorfiscal

    So now a taxpayer have a right to be in a public university because a relatively small portion of their personal tax dollars go towards that university?

    I don't even know how to respond to this; especially as it's coming from someone who routinely posts conservative opinions.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:36 p.m.

    Rotela = Stud

  • DanO Mission Viejo, CA
    March 26, 2013 7:32 p.m.

    I was trying to figure out why a teacher would ask a student to do this, so I researched past this article. What's weird here is the whole point of the lesson was to discuss when inevitably a student refuses to step on the name. We've only heard the student's statement and a the University saying they won't allow the particular activity again. I'm wondering if the student stormed out or refused to participate in the discussion.

    “Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper,” the synopsis said. “Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

  • roberto Moses Lake, WA
    March 26, 2013 7:22 p.m.

    I really liked the university's apology. It holds dear its core values... What core values. It also says they welcome all religions...That's an odd way to welcome someone who happens to be christian. The apology was hollow at best.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 26, 2013 7:11 p.m.

    Re: "No one is forcing this young man to attend that class or that university."

    But, why should he be forced out of a university he and his parents' tax monies pay for?

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 26, 2013 7:12 p.m.


    from the DN article:
    "Rotela, a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refused to complete the exercise and was suspended by the university after reporting the incident to the instructor’s supervisor, CBS News reported on March 21."

    I would say a suspension is punishment. Which seems way overboard and inappropriate.

    If the student simply refused what did the instructor do? Did he punish the student in any way?
    I see nothing wrong with the student refusing to do it and expressing why he wouldn't do it to the teacher. The teacher should respect the student's refusal to do it. The teacher doesn't need to apologize however, unless he punished the student for not doing it.

    What was the point of the exercise? What point was the teacher trying to make?
    It would be nice to hear more of the story.

  • BYR Woods Cross, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:54 p.m.

    Rotella was punished. "The fourth paragraph states: Rotela, a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refused to complete the exercise and was SUSPENDED by the university after reporting the incident to the instructor’s supervisor, CBS News reported on March 21" (caps mine). He was punished and probably reinstated. I wonder what happened to the professor. Was she punished, reprimanded?

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:32 p.m.

    Kinda blows my mind. To say that Jesus doesn't mater, is like saying that no one does. That student lone money has rely gone to their head, as the value of the dollar is worth less and less every day.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    Interesting that the university didn't care much about their students until suddenly the media got a hold of the story, then suddenly they had a reversal of thought.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    March 26, 2013 6:22 p.m.

    I'm going to go ahead and guess that the actual situation is much more complicated. I'm also having a hard time buying that he started with "with all due respect to your authority..." etc. This all sounds like a whitewashed story by the student and the university is not going to be able to say anything about what he did because of student privacy laws. According to other news sources, the exercise was completely optional, and the only confrontation was initiated by the student. In fact, the exercise apparently assumes students won't step on Jesus: "Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture." Again, everything sounds outlandish when you are only getting one side of the story.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    March 26, 2013 6:21 p.m.

    As is often expressed by those who comment on these boards to those who have views that they disagree with, if you don't like the class/university go somewhere else! No one is forcing this young man to attend that class or that university. Don't all you conservatives believe, as you've been posting numerous times over the on the same-sex marriage articles today, that a minority shouldn't deliberately go into a place where s/he is uncomfortable simply to try to change attitudes of the majority? The duplicity really is astounding.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:22 p.m.

    He was initially told that he was suspended by the University. Only after CBS did their reeport did they retract that and restore him to class. This article leaves out that the instructor is the county Democratic party chairman and that he has issues with religion as reported in the CBS local story. The class demonstration from the manual was to have students place the paper on the floor and ask students to step on it (not stomp) and when some of the students hesitate the instructor is supposed to ask why some people hesitate. He is then supposed to explain the power of symbols to people. No one was supposed to be forced to do it and there was apparently no attempt to force him or threaten his grades. He didn't like the method used by the instuctor and complained to the department head and that was when he was suspended and the school initally supported the instructor. At least that is how I read the original story yesterday. Stupid example for a university level class about symbols anyway.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    Of course the writer of this article couldn't be bothered to write the point of the exercise as stated in the textbook which is to note how there are people who will hesitate to follow through with it and what symbols end up representing.

  • EducateMe SANDY, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:02 p.m.

    He should sue the university for 100 million dollars, just for kicks and giggles just to watch them crumble.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    March 26, 2013 6:03 p.m.

    @JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt & southmtnman

    How was he punished?

    Direct quote from the story: "and was suspended by the university after reporting the incident to the instructor’s supervisor, CBS News reported on March 21."

    I suspect suspention qualifies as punishemnt

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    March 26, 2013 5:58 p.m.

    He doesn't need to be punished. This headline is wrong.
    What it should of read was, teacher fired for being out to lunch.
    I would like go write something more negative, but it would get flagged

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    March 26, 2013 5:54 p.m.

    Good job, Ryan Rotela. It takes guts to stand up against a majority, and stand up for your beliefs.

    Cow pies to the istructor, who apparently didn't have enough of a clue to realize how offensive an exercise like that could be. I hope the instructor learned something from this.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    March 26, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    Perhaps I missed it, but how exactly was this student punished?

    No doubt the instructor had a point that he was trying to make by this activity. Did the author of the article omit the educational point on purpose, or was it simply an oversight? Taking the very narrow description of "stomping on the name Jesus" completely out of context seems lazy, at least, and deliberately misleading at worst.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    March 26, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    I am LDS and a disciple of Jesus Christ. While I applaud the student for not stoping on the paper, I am failing to see how he is being punished. He has not been suspended nor his grade in the class impacted. Keep going to the class and show the others you say what you mean and mean what you say. I do not see in the story he was barred, only asked not to go. Keep going to class until a resolution is at hand. If he is suspended or expelled, by all means get legal representation.

  • I Bleed Blue Las Vegas, NV
    March 26, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    Wow, what a fine institution of learning. Religious persecution alive and well.

  • pumpkin Huntington, Utah
    March 26, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    it takes guts to stand up to abusive authority. Thank You young man.

  • Meadow Lark Mark IDAHO FALLS, ID
    March 26, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    Great job Mr. Rotela!!!!!