Tags: fau | jesus | stomping | professor

Embattled FAU Instructor: I Was Doing My Job in ‘Jesus’ Incident

By Todd Beamon   |   Wednesday, 03 Apr 2013 07:45 PM

The Florida college instructor who asked students to write “Jesus” on paper and then step on it in an intercultural communications class said on Wednesday that “I was doing my job.”

The instructor, Deandre Poole, said that he hoped to continue teaching at Florida Atlantic University and that he hoped that last month’s incident did not define his career, The Palm Beach Post reports.

“This experience has changed my life because it’s my career that’s on the line,” Poole, 32, told the Post’s editorial board, describing himself as a “very religious” Christian.

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“It’s my name, my reputation. I don’t want to be known as the ‘Jesus-stomp professor.’ That’s not what I told my students to do,” he said. “I don’t want to have that follow me.”

In the Feb. 25 exercise, Poole told students to write “Jesus” in big letters on paper, place it on the floor and then step on the paper. Students were then asked to describe how they felt.

FAU officials said Poole told students they could choose to participate in the exercise, which was based on an example in a study guide to a course textbook and intended to provoke a discussion of cultural symbols.

The university has since apologized for the incident, which brought criticism from students, and said the exercise would no longer be used. Officials also placed Poole on paid administrative leave out of concern for his safety.

Poole told The Post that he conducted the exercise only once before, in 2012, without incident.

“I do feel that the university hasn’t backed me as much as they could have,” Poole told The Post in response to a question about the administration’s handling of the matter.

Lisa Metcalf, a university spokeswoman, disagreed, however.

“While the University is responsible for his safety, it is also responsible for the safety of its students, faculty and staff,” she told The Post. “In fact, Dr. Poole was consulted prior to being placed on leave during a phone call with the Interim Dean of the College. At no time did he object to this decision.”

As for FAU’s decision to drop the exercise, Metcalf said, “This was a unique situation and the decision made regarding the textbook exercise was in the best interests of the university.”

A non-tenured instructor at FAU, Poole has a one-year, $43,000 teaching contract that expires in May, The Post reports.

Inside Higher Education also contributed to this report.

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