Imagine this: A teacher has you write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put it on the floor, and then instructs you to stomp on it.
Unbelievable, right? Well one college student refused to go along with the rest of his class, and got suspended for it. Of course the university says it did nothing wrong.
A Florida Atlantic University student said he was punished after he refused a professor’s directive to stomp on a piece of paper with the word “Jesus” written on it. The university, meanwhile, is defending the assignment as a lesson in debate.
“I’m not going to be sitting in a class having my religious rights desecrated,” student Ryan Rotela told television station WPEC. “I truly see this as I’m being punished.”
Rotela, who is a devout Mormon, said the instructor in his Intercultural Communications class told the students to write the name “Jesus” on a sheet of paper. Then, they were told to put the paper on the floor.
“He had us all stand up and he said ‘Stomp on it,’” Rotela said. “I picked up the paper from the floor and put it right back on the table.
The young college student told the instructor, Deandre Poole, that the assignment was insulting and offensive.
“I said to the professor, ‘With all due respect to your authority as a professor, I do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate,’” Rotela said. ‘I believe it was unprofessional and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.’”
Rotela took his concerns to Poole’s supervisor – where he was promptly suspended from the class.
Poole did not return calls seeking comment. According to his university profile, he has a PhD from Howard University and is authoring a book titled, “Obamamania: The Rise of a Mythical Hero.”
A university spokesperson told they could not comment about Rotela’s case due to student privacy laws.
However, the university is defending the instructor’s assignment to stomp on the name of Jesus.
“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,” said Noemi Marin, the university’s director of the school of communication and multimedia studies.
“While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate,” Marin added.
The lesson on bashing the name of Christ is included in a textbook titled, “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”
Fox News obtained a synopsis of the lesson that got Rotela in trouble.
“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.”
The university did not explain why students were only instructed to write the name of Jesus – and not the name of Mohammed or another religious figure.
Rotela said the idea of stomping on the name of Jesus was beyond his comprehension.
“Any time you stomp on something it shows you believe that it has no value,” he told the television station. “If you were to stomp on the word Jesus – it says the word has no value.”