FAU "Jesus Stomp" Professor Deandre Poole: "My Safety Has Been in Question"

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FAU Professor Dr. Deandre Poole has broken his silence since being embroiled in the so-called "Jesus Stomping" controversy that derailed into what seems to be a disconcerting theater of the absurd.

Since the FAU professor held a class in which he asked his students to write Jesus on a piece of paper, fold said paper, put it on the floor, and then step on it, and one of the students, Ryan Rotela, refused to participate because it offended him as a religious person, which supposedly eventually got the student suspended, Poole has been placed on leave for "his own safety."

See also:
- FAU "Jesus Stomp" Instructor Deandre Poole Placed on Leave for "Personal Safety"
- Rick Scott Chimes In on FAU "Jesus Stomping" Controversy

In an interview with InsideHigherEd.com, Poole says that he has since received death threats and hate mail and clarifies that Rotela was not, in fact, suspended for not participating in the class exercise.

According to Poole, Rotela approached him after class to express his offense with a balled fist that he slammed into his other hand. Poole says Rotela told the professor that "he wanted to hit me."

Poole notified campus security, which led to Rotela's suspension.

Rotela's account of his suspension is that he himself went to a school administrator to talk about his concerns over the class exercise.

Either way, the story has since blown up, with Rick Scott weighing in on the situation and praising Rotela for his bravery in "standing up for his faith" while reprimanding FAU and Poole.

Then, as we reported Friday, FAU placed Poole on a leave of absence for his own safety.

Poole tells Inside Higher Education that he is, in fact, a Christian and that he never told his class to "stomp" on Jesus -- which is the word used in most headlines reporting the incident.

"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 says that the exercise required students to step (not stomp) on the folded paper with the word "Jesus" on it but that it was meant to cause discussion of feelings and to learn the power of symbols through emotional impact.

Instead, Rotela's side of the story broke first, and now Poole is on paid leave for doing his job.

"My safety has been in question," he says. "There are churches that want to march against me. There are people calling on the university to fire me. And it's all for doing my job. I was doing my job."

Poole, who is African-American, says he's received death threats and, because some people are horrible racists, messages about hanging him from a tree.

FAU has since banned the exercise from being taught at the university, which was a completely dumb and reactionary move on its part.

And Poole, who has one more year left on his contract, is left wondering if he will be able to return next semester.

He says he hopes he can return.

"I love my students, and I want to continue to make a difference in their lives," he said.

As we've mentioned before, if Rotela was indeed suspended for not participating in an exercise that offended him, that would be bad. It's equally appalling, though, that Poole has to deal with the daily stress of hate mail and death threats.

FAU's knee-jerk reaction to the entire episode has been absurd.

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12 comments
motza
motza

FAU "Jesus Stomp" Instructor Deandre Poole would do best to resign at this point.  He need not call on the devil as the devil will come on his own!

Mr. Poole has overstepped his bounds by stepping on the rights of others.  He should be shunned by the educational community.

briank1967
briank1967

"I was just doing my job" is not n excuse.

Persons who participate in society in a way that, while on an individual scale may seem relatively innocuous even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit 
 
Hi inability to see how the lesson plan was wrong is preciously why he is a little Eichmann. He lacked the moral compass to see the religious persecution in the lesson plan

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII topcommenter

Suspended by security for threatening the instructor. How could that be? That doesn't fit in with the rush to judgement reaction. I can hear crickets chirping.

ChazStevensGenius
ChazStevensGenius

You know, I'm not really up on those 15, I mean 10 Commandments.

But didn't Rotela break one when he lied?

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

Ahh so the truth comes out.  Want to bet FAUX wont correct themselves and will keep saying that kid was suspended for not participating?

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@briank1967 The point of the lesson was to understand the power of religious and other symbolism. No one was forced to participate.

smdrpepper
smdrpepper

@briank1967 This was nothing close to "religious persecution" but rather showing how we put so much power into a symbol, in this case the written name of Jesus.  Hell it could have been the name of someone in the class, but no, you jump straight into religious persecution.

Therefor you have proven the point.

sumdude
sumdude

@smdrpepper

 FAU has never said the kid was suspended for not participating. The only thing they've ever said is that nobody was suspended because they refused to participate in the exercise, which is absolutely true. The student threatened the professor, the prof. reported it as he should have and they suspended the student for violating University rules of conduct, right? All this came about because the kid committed an act that goes contrary to his Mormon upbringing, although the Mormons I know have a tendency to believe they're always right, especially when it comes to Christian doctrine. 

The Book of Mormon teaches that contention and anger are of the devil:

 "...neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such thingsshouldbe done away." 3rd Nephi, 11:28-30 

So if he hasn't done so already, according to his own church's teachings he should be confessing to his Bishop the sin of conspiring with the devil.


briank1967
briank1967

@smdrpepper @briank1967 

You don't see it as religious persecution but a lot of people do.  That's the point. The instructor lacked the skills to handle the situation.  He could have diffused the situation but failed to do so.  His supervisor could have diffused the situation, but again failed to do so.  If an instructor is going to introduce a potentially highly volatile teaching method, they should have the skills to diffuse it if it goes wrong.  He failed.  

The problem is rather than admit he was wrong, he is trying to use the excuse -"It was in the lesson plan". I was just following orders!

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