Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has issued a formal apology to a student that was facing academic charges after he complained about a professor who ordered the class to write the name “Jesus” on pieces of paper and then stomp on the paper.
Here in bold is my favorite part of FAU’s apology when Corey King, the university’s dean of students told Fox News:
“As a result, we feel it’s necessary to no longer offer this assignment or activity,” he said. “We did not anticipate the hurt and pain it would cause in the community.”
Well now it appears that FAU itself will continue to feel more “hurt and pain” as Florida Governor Rick Scott has reprimanded FAU and is requesting an incident report on the entire “Jesus stomping” incident from Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the Florida University System.
Governor Scott also had this to say about Ryan Rotela:
“I just spoke to Ryan Rotela and applauded him for having the courage to stand up for his faith,” Scott said in a statement. “I told him that it took great conviction and bravery to stand up and say what he was asked to do was wrong, and went against what he believed in.”
The blazing fire from this incident may be extinguished but the smoke will continue. This is because, as of this writing, Professor Poole still has his job teaching “Cultural Communications” at FAU.
So with that in mind, I recommend Professor Poole trash his existing “Cultural Communications” class lesson plans, and instead have his students study the dynamics of how this entire saga played out. Then his students might learn how “cultural communications” works in the real world. A world where just a few people have strongly held beliefs that they hold dear and are willing to stand up for, even fight and die for, if necessary.
The students would study the timeline of “hurt and pain” caused in the community by cultural insensitivity from an activist professor, who is also vice-chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. Students would learn how the local and national community rose up to defend a brave student who was wronged, first by the professor and then by the university.
Those would-be cultural communications lessons might be worth thousands of dollars in student loans. But wait, the most meaningful and important class lessons are still to come.
In my first Tatler post on this story, I asked what if Professor Poole had requested his students stomp on the name Mohammed instead of Jesus’ name.
My new suggestion is for Poole’s students to write essays about what they think might have happened if they had been asked to do just that. Would the saga have taken a different turn? Would their classroom have been torched?
Students must use some “cultural communications” imagination to complete this exercise. They could also discuss the outcome if Professor Poole had asked them to stomp on the words “Torah” or “Jews” or “Gays” or “Obama” or “Martin Luther King.”
Most likely, if any of those names had been used instead of Jesus, students would have complained en mass. Then Professor Poole would have been fired immediately and that would have been the end of the story.
Finally, we have arrived at the most important class lesson.
In my second post I posed the question: “Why was there only one student in the class who found stomping on Jesus objectionable?”
The one student who did, Ryan Rotela also happens to be a devout Mormon. Rotela displayed, in the words of Governor Scott, “great conviction and bravery” when he refused the class stomp and told Professor Poole, “Never do the assignment again because it’s offensive.”
Rotela’s statement leaves one to conclude that the rest of his classmates proceeded to stomp on Jesus’ name, blindly following Professor Poole’s instructions whether they objected or not.
So now it’s time for the class to familiarize themselves with a German named Martin Niemöller (1892-1984).
Niemöller was a prominent Lutheran pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and, as a result, spent seven years in Nazi concentration camps. He is best known for a series of quotations, which define for me (what has gone undefined up until this point), the class title itself, “Cultural Communications.” Niemöller wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
Therefore, I proclaim Ryan Rotela as the new Martin Niemoller of our time and Professor Poole’s students should remember both their names for the rest of their lives.
For now, Professor Poole’s “Jesus stomping” students should follow Governor Scott’s example and applaud Ryan Rotela. For Rotela, as the only student not afraid to speak out may in fact, be a rare breed. The sad truth is, as the dumbing down of our education system continues, there may not be anyone left who is bold enough to speak out.