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FAU Protesters Show Up in Support of Deandre Poole and Academic Freedom

It looks like Stomp on Jesus-Gate at FAU is far from over.

Around 60 protesters showed up at the campus to protest the university and Gov. Rick Scott over their handling of the incident and treatment of Professor Deandre Poole, who conducted the now so-called Step on Jesus class exercise.

Last week, the Rev. Mark Boykin, senior pastor of the Church of All Nations, led a protest of 150 Christians at the campus who were up in arms over Poole's holding the exercise in his class.

Tuesday's gaggle of protesters got together outside the FAU administration building, showing their support for Poole and accusing the university of abandoning academic freedom.

Last week's protesters accused the university of the "desecration of the heart and soul of a student's faith."

The brouhaha began when Poole held a class in which he asked students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper, fold said paper, put it on the floor, and then step on it.

One of the students, Ryan Rotela, refused to participate because he said it offended him as a religious person to step on a piece of paper with "Jesus" written on it.

Rotela apparently took his concern to school administrators, and then he claims he was suspended from the class.

Poole says Rotela was actually suspended for basically physically threatening the professor.

Rick Scott saw it Rotela's way and called him courageous and wrote an ornery letter to FAU.

Meanwhile, Poole was given a leave of absence in which he now spends time reading hate mail from people who would like to see him hanged from a tree.

Also, former SNL actress and current tea baggy person Victoria Jackson, attended last week's protest carrying a "Jesus Christ Is Lord" sign.

As for Tuesday's protesters, they simply want to make it known that FAU and Scott have no business meddling in academic activities.

"The one thing I thought students, faculty, and administration could agree on is academic freedom," said Christopher Robe, a communications professor and head of the faculty union at FAU. "The fact that we have to come out here and do this is a deep betrayal."

Whichever side you choose on this topic, one thing is perfectly clear: The FAU administration has been a complete travesty with this ordeal -- as it has with pretty much everything else it's had to handle.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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