Middle East studies in the News
Rollins College Student Claims He Was Suspended for Challenging His Muslim Professor [on Areej Zufari]
by Jenni Fink
When Marshall Polston signed up for Middle Eastern humanities at Rollins College in Orlando, Florida, he probably didn't think that it would bring an early end to the spring semester of his sophomore year.
From the first day of class, Polston says he encountered anti-Christian messages from his professor, Areej Zufari. Although touted as a secular class, his professor reportedly claimed that Jesus was not crucified and his disciples did not believe he was God. Polston told Independent Journal Review:
He said that whether he was right or the professor was right, he "thinks students should be allowed to speak." However, he was sent to the dean of safety's office and class was cancelled the next day, because the professor "felt unsafe."
During a conversation with the dean, Polston agreed to not say anything during class, but a few weeks later it hit a boiling point. After the professor brought up Sharia Law, a Muslim student stated that in accordance with the law, adulterers and gays should be beheaded.
The "outrageous comment" made the room "go silent," and Polston claimed he wasn't the only person who felt uncomfortable. He told IJR that the comment wasn't an isolated incident. A Bernie Sanders supporter sitting next to him admitted that the student "makes him nervous."
After the comment was made, Polston met with the dean, who he said "brushed it off." He described the school's reaction to IJR:
Polston received an unexpected failing grade for one of three essays that make up the entire class, and in a post on the Florida ACLU Facebook, the professor claimed she has "ANOTHER student making [her] life hell this semester":
Her use of "ANOTHER" student, implies that this is not the first time she has had problems with students making her "feel unsafe." Polston told IJR that he was never informed of other incidents but wouldn't "be surprised" if other students were concerned with the professor's agenda.
According to court documents obtained by the Central Florida Post, Zufari may have a troubling past.
Screenshot/Central Florida Post
Screenshot/Central Florida Post
Zufari was allegedly having an affair with Maher Ghawji, and a lawsuit filed by his wife Rosine accused Zufari of attempting to indoctrinate her children to become radical Muslim extremists.
On March 23, Zufari filed a complaint with campus safety that accused Polston of violating his campus ban.
The complaint stated that a student looked out the classroom's glass door and "saw Mr. Polston staring into the room." According to the report, campus safety responded at 19:36 but did not locate the student.
Polston reasoned that campus safety didn't find him on campus because he wasn't there. He told IJR:
Documents that were sent to IJR show him at Chipotle at 18:58 and returning home at 19:02.
Campus safety was called about 36 minutes later and based on the distance between his house and campus, Polston claimed it would have been impossible for him to get there.
The next day, Marshall Polston was informed that he was suspended from Rollins College.
While many people have rallied around the student, some are suspecting there's more to the story than meets the eye.
As an open conservative, Polston dismissed the claim that this is anything more than a student believing in his right to speak and the need for Rollins College to remain secular. He told IJR:
Polston has also reportedly lived in multiple countries in the Middle East.
He has hired a lawyer and has taken steps to appeal his suspension. Polston hopes to be reinstated and have the professor removed without severance because her classroom behavior is not acceptable.
Editor's note: We've reached out to Rollins College President Grant Cornwell for comment and will update this article if a response is received.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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