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‘Jesus’-Stomping Exercise at Florida Atlantic U. Draws Rebuke From Governor

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has stepped into the fray over an offensive classroom exercise at Florida Atlantic University in which students were asked to stomp on a sheet of paper with “Jesus” written on it. According to reports by the Sun Sentinel and the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, the Republican governor has written to the state university system’s chancellor asking for a report on the incident, how it was handled, and how the university will ensure that such an incident does not recur.

Florida Atlantic has repeatedly apologized for the incident.

The exercise, used in an intercultural-communications class at the university’s Davie campus, was based on an example in a study guide written by a professor who is unaffiliated with Florida Atlantic, the university said in a statement posted on its Web site on Tuesday. “Based on the offensive nature of the exercise, we will not use it again and have issued an apology to the community. It was insensitive and unacceptable. We continue to apologize to all the people who were offended and deeply regret this situation has occurred.”

The university also disputed reports that a student who complained about the exercise had been disciplined. “No students were forced to take part in the exercise,” the statement says. “The instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate. No students will be disciplined in any way related to this exercise, either inside or outside the classroom.”

But those assurances were not enough for Governor Scott. “Whether the student was reprimanded or whether an apology was given is in many ways inconsequential to the larger issue of a professor’s poor judgment,” he wrote in his letter to the chancellor. “The professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.”

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