Student complains that FAU instructor, a Democratic official, asked class to stomp on ‘Jesus’by George Bennett | March 22nd, 2013
A Florida Atlantic University student says he’s been told not to return to his intercultural communications class after he complained that the instructor, who’s also a Palm Beach County Democratic Party official, asked students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper and stomp on it.
Ryan Rotela of Coral Springs says that after he complained about instructor Deandre Poole‘s request, FAU accused him of threatening Poole and told him not to return to Poole’s class. Rotela’s story was first reported by WPEC-Channel 12.
Poole is also vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party.
Poole and FAU officials have not responded to requests for comment today.
Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said Poole was merely following an exercise in a textbook used in the course.
“The whole purpose of the exercise is to encourage discussion among the students about how different cultures apply different meanings to symbols…It encourages a healthy discussion. That’s my understanding,” Rizzo said.
She added: “Deandre himself is a Christian. He goes to church.”
Rotela said that in a March 4 class at FAU’s Davie campus, Poole asked students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then asked them to put the paper on the floor and stomp on it.
Rotela said that when he tried to raise an objection during the class, he was brushed off by Poole.
After the class, Rotela said, he expressed his concerns to Poole and said he would tell Poole’s supervisor and the media about the incident. Poole told him to leave the classroom, said Rotela. Rotela said he then told Poole that Poole would hear from him again.
After complaining to Poole’s immediate supervisor at FAU’s main campus in Boca Raton, Rotela said he met with an FAU hearing officer who questioned his account in a “hostile” way and accused Rotela of threatening Poole. Rotela said he later received a letter from the school telling him not to attend Poole’s class.
Rotela says he didn’t threaten Poole and doesn’t think his words could have been interpreted that way.
“I don’t believe letting things be known and letting people know what happened is a threat,” said Rotela.
Rotela, 21, said he works full time and takes courses part time in pursuit of a communications degree. He said he hopes to go to law school. Asked about his religious beliefs, Rotela said he attends a Mormon church but “I identify myself as just Ryan, Christian, believes in God.”