‘Jesus’ exercise ban curtailed academic freedom

A faculty committee at Florida Atlantic University has made a preliminary finding that academic freedom was compromised when the institution banned a controversial classroom exercise that asked students to write ‘Jesus’ on a piece of paper and step on it, writes George Bennett for The Palm Beach Post.

The finding was read during a packed faculty senate meeting on 19 April. While teaching an intercultural communications class in February, instructor Deandre Poole followed the manual for a popular textbook, which said the ‘Jesus’ exercise was intended to teach students that “even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings”.

Florida Atlantic University initially defended the exercise when a student went to a local TV station with complaints about it. But when a national uproar ensued, administrators apologised and ordered it removed from the curriculum without consulting faculty. Poole, a Christian who said he wouldn’t have stepped on the paper if he had been asked to, received hate mail and death threats and was placed on administrative leave with pay because of concerns for his safety.
Full report on The Palm Beach Post site