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University Takes Action to Punish Student

By Todd Starnes

A Florida Atlantic University student who filed a complaint against his professor after he was ordered to stomp on the name of Jesus has been brought up on academic charges by the school and may no longer attend class, according to documents obtained by Fox News.

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The “Notice of Charges” against Ryan Rotela is contrary to a statement the university released late Friday night saying no one had been disciplined as a result of the classroom activity.

“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 in a prepared statement.

However, according to a letter written by Associate Dean Rozalia Williams, Rotela is facing a litany of charges – including an alleged violation of the student code of conduct, acts of verbal, written or physical abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”

“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,” Williams wrote to Rotela. “Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint.”

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation at the Liberty Institute, told Fox News the university’s behavior is “outlandish” and called their press release “inaccurate.”

“We believe the university punished him in retaliation for him exposing the class assignment to the public,” Sasser said. “Sadly, it is a testimony to the indoctrination that some of the public schools and universities are engaging in – to demonize anything that was valuable in the culture.”

The Liberty Institute wants Rotela reinstated with full credit for the course – along with an apology.

“He’s being punished because he told the professor to never do the assignment again because it’s offensive and that he was going to complain to the university,” he said.

Rotela, a devout Mormon, ran afoul of the university after he refused to participate in a classroom assignment that involved writing the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper – and then stomping on it.

The university initially defended the Christ-bashing lesson which is included textbook titled, “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

Fox News obtained a synopsis of the lesson taught by Deandre Poole, who also happens to be vice chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.

“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 issued an apology late Friday after a national uproar and said the exercise “will not be used again.”

Rotela told Fox News he was baffled by the university’s latest statement.

“The university has a huge problem with integrity,” he said. “They are tripping over their own words.”

The “Notice of Charges” accused the student of using threatening language. The school did not return calls seeking clarification. Rotela’s attorney said he believes the perceived threat came when Rotela told the teacher “don’t do that again” – in reference to stomping on the paper. The student also told the instructor, “You’ll be hearing from me.”

Florida Atlantic University also denied that anyone was forced to participate in the assignment.

“Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate,” the university stated.

Sasser said Rotela’s case has generated national outrage and a number of high-profile attorneys have offered to volunteer their services.

“The textbook reveals the agenda,” he said. “So-called intellectual enlightenment is stomping on everything that has held western civilization together for the past 2,000 years.”

Paul Kengor, the executive director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College, told Fox News he’s not surprised by the classroom lesson.

“These are the new secular disciples of ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’ – empty buzzwords that make liberals and progressives feel good while they often refuse to tolerate and sometimes even assault traditional Christian and conservative beliefs,” Kengor said.

Kengor said classes like the one at Florida Atlantic University demonstrate the contempt many public institutions hold for people of faith.

“It also reflects the rising confidence and aggression of the new secularists and atheists, especially at our sick and surreal modern universities,” he said.

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.

“Gee, I wonder if the instructor would dare do this with the name of Mohammed,” Kengor wondered.

Rotela told Fox News he has been overwhelmed by the support he’s received from Christians across the nation.

“The response and support I have gotten has been beautiful and uplifting,” he said. “I have never seen such a strong wave of Christians thank me for this. Looking back – the whole incident was one of the best and worst moments of my life.”

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