The saga concerning the Florida Atlantic University student who was suspended because he was uncomfortable with a professor’s assignment to stomp on a piece of paper bearing the word “Jesus” has taken still another bizarre turn.
The student, devout Mormon Ryan Rotela, now faces a litany of academic charges and may no longer attend class, reports Fox News Radio.
The allegations against the junior include “acts of verbal, written or physical abuse; threats, intimidation, harassment, coercion; or other conduct which threaten the health, safety or welfare of any person.”
Rotela’s attorney told Fox News that the professor, Deandre Poole (who is also the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party), may have felt threatened when Rotela said of the Jesus stomping, “Don’t do that again.”
Rotela also reportedly said, “You’ll be hearing from me.”
The “Notice of Charges” from Associate Dean Rozalia Williams also contains a violation of the student code of conduct.
“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 told Rotela in a letter obtained by Fox News. “Please be advised that a Student Affairs hold may be placed on your records until final disposition of the complaint.”
FAU officials are having a terrible time keeping their story straight regarding this kerfuffle.
An FAU official initially defended the suspension, telling local CBS affiliate WPEC that the Jesus-stomping was part of a classroom exercise from a textbook, “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.” (RELATED: Florida Atlantic Univ. student claims he was suspended for not stomping on Jesus [VIDEO])
Mediaite later confirmed that the instructor’s manual accompanying textbook does, in fact, recommend Jesus-stomping.
“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper,” advises the manual. “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 FAU class in which the Jesus-stomping assignment occurred studied “intercultural communications.”
On Friday, FAU swore that no one was punished because of the assignment, and issued an apology. The public, taxpayer-funded school also said it won’t be using the assignment again. (RELATED: UPDATE: Florida Atlantic University apologizes for Jesus Stomping 101)
“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,” the apology said. “Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”
“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.”
Rotela said he is troubled by FAU’s perpetually changing stance.
“The university has a huge problem with integrity,” he told Fox News. “They are tripping over their own words.”
FAU, which rarely does anything to warrant national headlines, was recently in the news when James Tracy, tenured associate professor of media history, bizarrely claimed that the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t happen as it was widely reported — and perhaps didn’t happen at all. (RELATED: Public university professors join ranks of Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists)
“There is a growing awareness that the media coverage of the massacre of 26 children and adults was intended primarily for public consumption to further larger political ends,” Tracy wrote on his blog shortly after the shootings, according to the Sun-Sentinel.