In response to the uproar over a classroom exercise that asked students to step on a piece of paper with “Jesus” written on it, Florida Atlantic University has come up with a plan that aims to avoid repeating such a fiasco, but the plan stops short of banning the use of the exercise, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Reports that a student had been disciplined for refusing to participate in the exercise sparked a public outcry and drew a rebuke from the state’s governor, Rick Scott. The university’s president at the time, Mary Jane Saunders, who resigned in May, told the governor that the university would never use the exercise again. But that pledge prompted faculty concerns about academic freedom.
The university outlines the steps it will take in a letter written by the provost, Brenda Claiborne, to the chancellor of the state-university system. “To ensure an understanding and appreciation of the sensitive nature of some classroom exercises, administrators and faculty will continue their ongoing discussions about academic freedom and academic responsibility,” she wrote. She added: “It is our understanding that faculty in the School of Communications … will be reviewing the exercise in question.”
Other steps the university will take include conducting workshops on dealing with disruptions in class and handling disciplinary matters in a timely manner. The university says that its delay in investigating a matter in which a student was suspended for allegedly threatening the instructor who assigned the exercise created a perception that the student was suspended for objecting to the exercise. The university dropped disciplinary action against the student.