A professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley tried to ban students from saying “God bless you” in class this semester.
“Please refrain from saying, ‘God bless you’ during the classes and exams,” the professor’s syllabus instructed — before complaints from students forced a quick deletion.
Here is a screenshot of the syllablus from local CBS affiliate KGBT-TV:
Imagery of the syllabus went viral on social media this week during the public school’s first-ever week of classes,
The station is not identifying the taxpayer-funded professor who, from the context of the syllabus, appears to specialize in statistics.
Officials at the school — which has chosen the unwieldy acronym UTRGV — refused to appear on camera but did release a statement about the “God bless you” prohibition.
“The professor’s syllabus sought to identify examples of potentially disruptive behavior the professor believed could hinder the classroom learning environment, including use of cellphones,” the statement said, according to KGBT. “The intent was not to limit the religious freedoms of UTRGV students, but to avoid unsolicited comments that might distract others.”
Also, the professor quickly removed the anti-blessing injunction from the syllabus and will engage in a discussion with students in the class.
Opinions about the kerfuffle differ among students on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus.
“I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with it,” student Aaron Bravo told KGBT.
Other students disagreed.
“It’s kind of ridiculous — First Amendment, freedom of religion. It’s there,” Marcos Villarreal told the station.
“As common courtesy, I say ‘God bless you’ to people who sneeze,” added a third student, John Taylor.
The University of Texas Rio Grande is the result of a merger between the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas–Pan American. Those institutions are now officially defunct.
Syllabi which attempt to prevent students from saying certain things have shown up at other campuses this fall.
Earlier this month, the president of Washington State University had to announce that taxpayer-funded professors on campus cannot flagrantly censor politically-incorrect terms or require students with white skin to “defer” to minority students. (RELATED: Washington State U. SMACKS DOWN Professors Who Want To CENSOR Politically-Incorrect Language)
“Over the weekend, we became aware that some faculty members, in the interest of fostering a constructive climate for discussion, included language in class syllabi that has been interpreted as abridging students’ free speech rights,” Washington State president Daniel J. Bernardo explained. “We are working with these faculty members to clarify, and in some cases modify, course policies to ensure that students’ free speech rights are recognized and protected.”