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University Apologizes, Reverses Course on Punishing Student Who Refused to Stomp on 'JESUS' Sign


"If it wasn’t for all the Christians and the open-minded people who decided to call the university -- I would be sitting in a room getting punished..."

The odd story about Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and his claim that he was suspended from a class for refusing to stomp on a sign that had Jesus' name on it, quickly spread across the nation. While the school issued an official apology over the bizarre debacle, questions still surround the incident, as the professor at the center of it, Dr. Deandre Poole, has been silent on the matter.

When the story first broke, numerous outlets, including TheBlaze, reported that Rotela was suspended from the course after complaining about the professor's in-class assignment. He and other students were apparently told by Poole to write “JESUS” on a sheet of paper, throw it on the floor and then stomp on it.

Rotela, a devout Mormon, refused to participate in the purported activity and told the professor that he found the request offensive. The student was so frustrated that he subsequently went to his professor’s supervisor to complain -- and that's when he was allegedly suspended from the class.

Fox News' Todd Starnes covered this story as well, adding additional context and writing that the student was initially accused of violating the student code of conduct after the official complaint was made.

In addition to be axed from the class, Rotela was apparently told not to speak with other students and he was also faced with possible suspension or expulsion. These latter claims were predicated upon a hearing that he was slated to go through.

"In the interim, you may not attend class or contact any of the students involved in this matter – verbally or electronically – or by any other means," a letter that was written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams to the student allegedly read. "Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint."

Both the student and his lawyer believe that the university's initial harsh response was retribution for Rotela going public with the story. But, alas, it seems the campus "charges" have been dropped and the university has backed down.

Rotela's lawyer, Hiram Sasser, with the conservative Liberty Institute, told Starnes that "there will be no punishment" and that the school is "wiping the record clean for Ryan." He will apparently be continuing in the course, but will not have to deal with Poole in the process.

FAU Dean of Students Corey King also reiterated the school's regret over the incident, apologizing and telling Starnes that there was no intent to offend.

Rotela was very thankful for the inevitable outcome, telling Starnes that he is gracious for the many Christians who called the college and made their opposition to the controversial Jesus activity known.

"I have two words -- thank you," the student said. "If it wasn’t for all the Christians and the open-minded people who decided to call the university -- I would be sitting in a room getting punished, getting sanctioned from the school and getting expelled from the university."

While it's inconsequential to this particular case, many outlets pointed to the fact that Poole is also the vice-chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. TheBlaze reached out to Poole when the story first broke, but we have not heard back from the professor.

(H/T: Fox News' Todd Starnes)


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