Welcome to “Surreal Tuesday,” where your absolute worst nightmares about how bad a college can be will come true.
The college in question is Rollins College, a tiny liberal arts college located in Winter Park, Florida. You want political correctness? They have enough to spare. You want a hysterically oversensitive faculty and students? No problem. You want spineless administrators who fail to stand up for academic freedom and against tyrannical teachers? Look no further.
A student at Rollins, Marshall Polston, a 20-year-old Christian, confronted his “professor” of Middle Eastern Humanities who asserted that Jesus Christ was not crucified. He also told his class that Jesus’s 12 apostles did not believe in Christ’s divinity.
Mr. Polston decided to confront his teacher, Areej Zufari, and before he knew it, he was not only suspended, but banned from stepping foot on campus.
“Honestly, it reminded me of some of the more radical groups I researched when abroad,” Polston told the Central Florida Post about his professor’s comments on Jesus.
“Whether religious or not, I believe even those with limited knowledge of Christianity can agree that according to the text, Jesus was crucified and his followers did believe he was divine… that he was ‘God,’” he continued. “Regardless, to assert the contrary as academic fact is not supported by the evidence.”
Polston, in a message to The College Fix on Saturday, said he stands behind his assertions in the Post article. He said he is upset he was suspended and has hired an attorney.
“Our university should be a place where free-speech flashes and ideas can be spoken of without punishment or fear of retribution,” Polston told The College Fix. “In my case it was the total opposite. … I came forward with the story because I know so many other students like me suffer under today’s liberal academic elite.”
If Mr. Polston’s travails had ended there, we could chalk it up as just another example of collegiate political correctness run amok. But the story gets even more bizarre:
Polston claims the situation began after he challenged Zufari’s assertions about Jesus and his disciples. Polston said this challenge led Zufari to file a complaint with a campus dean, claiming he made her feel “unsafe.”
Next, Polston received a 52 percent on a major essay.
“I was upset, understandably. I’ve never gotten anything less than straight A’s, so I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve or at least understand the grade,” Polston told the Post.
On another day during the course, Zufari led a discussion about the application of Sharia Law. Polston claims that during this discussion, a male Muslim student said gays and adulterers should be beheaded under Sharia Law.
Students in that class were extremely upset, with one even calling the FBI. Eventually, the teacher reported Polston to the dean of campus safety and he was suspended.
But Zufari was just warming up.
Zufari, for her part, posted on Facebook to the ACLU of Florida, complaining about an unnamed student that is “making my life hell this semester. This one is spewing hatred at me, de-railing class, and just sent me a hateful email threatening me…I want to know if there is a way to hold the individual responsible for his harassment and hate speech. Any ideas? Thank you!”
According to the March 24 suspension letter, Polston’s “actions have constituted a threat of disruption within the operations of the College and jeopardize the safety and well-being of members of the College community and yourself.”
I suppose if you’re ignorant of history it might seem that a student correcting that ignorance would be “spewing hatred.” Most of the rest of us would disagree.
Since the Bible was written long after Jesus left the earth, certain details of his life and ministry are fiercely debated among biblical scholars and historians. But if there is one fact of Jesus’s life that is little disputed it is his manner of death. About 50 years after the crucifixion, Jewish historian Josephus wrote of Christ’s death at the hands of Pilate. Another reliable reference of Christ’s crucifixion comes from Tacitus, one of the greatest Roman historians. He, too, wrote of Pilate’s crucifixion of Jesus.
As for what his disciples believed about his divinity, the biblical record is clear but history is less so. Nevertheless, there is no doubt what the disciples believed when they went out to proselytize on behalf of Christianity. They spread the word that Jesus is God — another undeniable fact Zufari is ignorant of.
You can understand Zufari’s denial of the crucifixion by reading the Koran. Muslims do not believe Jesus Christ was crucified, although some Muslims believe that He ascended into heaven without being put on the cross. So the question arises: just what is it that Zufari was teaching?
Zufari is not teaching humanities, which includes a study of history. She isn’t teaching at all. She is proselytizing for Islam and has no business teaching anywhere except a madrassa.
Academic freedom is one thing. Teaching history while getting the facts wrong is another.