Student, professor at odds over 'stomp on Jesus' exercise



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DAVIE, Fla. — A student at Florida Atlantic University said he was suspended after refusing to stomp on a piece of paper labeled "Jesus" during a lesson on symbolism.

Ryan Rotela, a junior at the school and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told CBS 12 he was suspended from class after an incident in his intercultural communications class. As a part of a lesson on symbolism, students were apparently asked to write the word "Jesus" on a piece of paper, put the paper on the floor and stomp on it.

Rotela told the station that some students took part in the exercise, but he refused. He said he told the instructor, Dr. Deandre Poole, he was offended.

"Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value," Rotela said.


Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value.

–Ryan Rotela


He said when we went to Poole's supervisor two days later to discuss the issue, he was suspended from class. In a statement sent to CBS 12, the university said, "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."

After widespread attention over the weekend, the university issued a statement about the issue on its home page. It said the exercise was based on an example presented in a study guide to the course's textbook.

The university said no students were forced to take part in the exercise.

"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 university said the exercise will not be used again.

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Stephanie Grimes

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