A few weeks ago Deandre Poole, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, led his Intercultural Communications students through an exercise that requires students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, and then step on it. When they hesitate, the instructor has an opening to discuss symbols and their meaning.
One student did hesitate, refusing to participate and asking Poole repeatedly, “How dare you disrespect someone’s religion?” The student, junior Ryan Rotella from Coral Springs, Florida, was notified that he was facing suspension and then told his side of the story to a local news station: “Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” said Rotella. [read his story here].
In the following weeks, Poole has received criticism from pundits nationwide, including the governor of Florida, as well as petitions seeking his firing and even death threats.
The most interesting fact? Poole is a professed Christian. “I am very religious,” he said. “I see how the name Jesus is symbolic. For people like myself, Jesus is my lord and savior. It’s how I identify myself as a Christian.”
Poole claims that he was only following the instructors guide book. He further claims that Rotella was suspended because he approached Poole in a threatening way after the class session in question, and not because of his refusal to participate in the activity. Poole has been removed from campus for his safety, and is no longer teaching. Get more facts surrounding the case and read his side of the story in an exclusive interview here.
Another Classroom Symbol Stomping
In December, Scott Compton, an honors English teacher at Chapin High School in Chapin, S.C., was placed on long-term administrative leave after he threw an American flag on the floor and stomped on it in front of his students. His point was to demonstrate that the flag itself was simply a symbolic piece of cloth. Compton has since been fired.
As a college of higher learning, Crown Online supports open discussion around all topics in the spirit of seeking truth. Is there any merit in the above mentioned exercises? Did these exercises go too far? Weigh in below.