An analytic chemistry professor at public, taxpayer-funded East Carolina University (ECU) has failed miserably in his bizarre effort to prevent students from thanking God in personal statements, which will be read during a departmental graduation ceremony on Friday.
The professor, Eli Hvastkovs, explicitly banned students from giving any credit to God in an email obtained by Campus Reform.
He ordered students to “provide me something written in the third person” in a personal statement that discusses future plans or “thanks someone.”
However, Hvastkovs wrote:
You can’t thank God. I’m sorry about this — and I don’t want to have to outline the reasons why.
“Keep it brief,” the assistant professor also told students. “I didn’t give you a real word limit,” Hvastkovs wrote. Then, in the very next sentence, he demanded “at max 35 words.”
In a later interview with Campus Reform, Hvastkovs explained his belief that entirely too many students expressed gratitude to God during last year’s departmental graduation ceremony at ECU.
“It’s not a religious ceremony,” he said. “It’s purely educational.”
The chemistry prof admitted that his ban on gratitude to God isn’t any kind of university-wide policy.
“It’s more of a departmental thing,” he told Campus Reform. “We have a diverse student body.”
When officials at the Greenville, N.C. school learned about Hvastkovs’s policy banning God in personal statements, they in turn banned Hvastkovs’s policy.
Marilyn Sheerer, the provost at ECU, sent an email to affected students directing them to ignore the professors religious embargo.
“Religious references of any type will not be restricted,” Sheerer’s email said.
ECU’s executive director of communication, Mary Schulken, also weighed in on students’ constitutional rights.
“The First Amendment allows them to thank God, to thank any force or any individual that they so desire,” she told Campus Reform.