Florida Atlantic University 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” and then stomp on the pieces of paper.
Ryan Rotela, a student at FAU, was accused of violating the student code of conduct after he reported his instructor to university administrators. He was removed from the class, ordered not to contact fellow students, and was facing possible suspension or expulsion – pending the outcome of a student hearing.
But after a massive national outcry, the university reversed course Monday afternoon and cleared the devout Mormon student of all accusations.
“There will be no punishment,” said Hiram Sasser, Rotela’s attorney. “They are wiping the record clean for Ryan. They are reinstating him for a plan to complete the course without that professor.”
Sasser, the director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, told Fox News that the university was deeply apologetic.
“The university apologized profusely,” Sasser said. “One of the university officials told us lots of people were offended by the assignment and they were very sorry about that.”
Corey King, the university’s dean of students, told Fox News they could not comment on the specifics of the Rotela incident – but reiterated their remorse for the offensive class assignment.
“First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for any hurt regarding this incident, any insensitivity that may have been seen by the community and the greater community at large,” King said. “We are deeply sorry.”
While King could not speak directly to Rotela’s standing at the university he did say that “upon reflection, the university has decided not to move forward with any disciplinary action against any student regarding this matter.”
The class in question was 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.”
King said it was obvious the lesson caused “hurt and pain” within the community and within the university’s population.
“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.