Florida Atlantic University reinstated the professor who was criticized by religious groups after one student refused to take part in an exercise involving stepping on a piece of paper with the name “Jesus” written on it.
WPTV-TV reported on Friday that Deandre Poole will be allowed to teach online courses, but has not been allowed to return to teach at the university’s campus in Davies, Florida, out of fear for his safety.
“Is Jesus on a piece of paper, or is Jesus part of who you are?” Poole asked the station, before explaining that his own Christian background was lost in the controversy that erupted in March 2013 after one of his students, Ryan Rotela, opted out of the argument.
“Any time you stomp on something, it shows that you believe that something has no value,” Rotela told WPEC-TV at the time. “If you were to stomp on the word ‘Jesus,’ it says that the word has no value.”
Poole was placed on academic leave after the incident, as he began to be targeted with hate mail calling him “anti-Christian.” But the school’s Interim Arts and Letters Dean, Heather Coltman, told the school magazine, the University Press that Poole’s students supported his return to his duties.
“I think students are very good at determining how serious and good a faculty member is,” Coltman told the magazine. “Many students that I spoke to told me he was the reason they would drive down to Davie to take one of his courses. He’s a dedicated teacher who connects well with students.”
However, Mark Boykin, pastor at a local church, called Poole’s reinstatement an insult.
“What’s next?” Boykin asked WPTV. “Spit on the cross, you get tenure?”
Watch WPTV’s report on Poole’s reinstatement, aired Friday, below.