Imagine for a moment that your professor had you write the name of Mohammed on a piece of paper. Then you were to place it on the floor and to stomp on it. Imagine the outrage the community would express at defacing the Islamic prophet in class.
This is what Florida Atlantic University Professor Deandre J. Poole did in intercultural communication class–but with the name of Jesus, not Mohammed.
Student Ryan Rotela, a Mormon, complained to Professor Poole’s supervisor about the incident and for his pains got suspended, according to The Daily Caller.
“I said to the professor, with all due respect to your authority as a professor, I just do not believe what you told us to do was appropriate,” Rotela said to CBS Channel 12 News. “I believe it was unprofessional, and I was deeply offended by what you told me to do.”
FAU acknowledges this incident and sent an email to CBS. “Faculty and student at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse,” maintained the university. “While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.” Except that the professor wasn’t debating the merits of Christianity, but asking students to do something that might be seen as profaning their own faith, or the faith of another religion.
Professor Poole’s areas of specialization are “intercultural communication, leadership and communication, and political communication.” He is currently working on the book, Obamamania: The Rise of a Mythical Hero.
Ironically, FAU’s own 2011 nondiscrimination policy enshrined the value of religion. “Florida Atlantic University is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination,” states the policy. “It is against the policy of the University to discriminate against, or exclude from participation in benefits or activities, either on the staff or in the student body, any person on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status or mental or physical disablement, provided such disablement, with reasonable accommodation, does not prevent satisfactory work performance” (emphasis added).
In addition, the latest edition of the handbook states that “Any student who feels aggrieved regarding religious accommodations may present a grievance to the director of Equal Opportunity Programs. Any such grievances will follow Florida Atlantic University’s established grievance procedure regarding alleged discrimination.”
“The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs was established to ensure each member of the University community shall be permitted to work or study in an environment free from any form of unlawful discrimination or harassment that is based on race, color, religion, age, disability, sex, national origin, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation or any legally protected class or basis (each a “protected class”),” states the university website (emphasis added). “The University recognizes its obligation to work toward a community in which diversity is valued and opportunity is equalized.”