Middle East studies in the News
Muslim Professor Resigns from Job at Rollins College Following Dispute with Christian Student
by Jardine Malado
A Muslim professor who was involved in a dispute with a Christian student has resigned from her post at Rollins College in Florida.
Areej Zufari, who teaches a Muslim Humanities course at Rollins, had resigned after she got involved in a controversy with a Christian student in late March.
Marshall Polston, a 21-year-old sophomore at the Florida-based private college, said that he was suspended from the school after he challenged Zufari's assertions that Jesus Christ was never crucified.
Polston also claimed that one Muslim student suggested during a discussion in Zufari's class that gays and adulterers should be beheaded under Sharia Law.
After receiving a failing grade on an essay, Polston reportedly wrote an email to the professor saying, "you report me to the dean for correcting you while you were indoctrinating students with false information. On the other hand a Muslim student in class cracks a joke about chopping someone's body parts off and you do nothing."
According to Rollins College President Grant Cornwell, Polston had been suspended because he made "vulgar" and "mean-spirited" comments about another student on social media, not because of her dispute with Zufari.
He had previously insisted that a student would "never ever ever" be suspended by the school for simply disagreeing with a professor
The sophomore student's suspension was rescinded after a week, but the reinstatement letter from Rollins College noted that he had been "aggressive, disrespectful, and at times, vulgar in multiple verbal and electronic communications with faculty, staff and students."
Polston's attorney, Kenneth Lewis, had maintained that the real reason for the student's suspension was the classroom dispute and that the Facebook post was "nothing" and "a total joke."
Cornwell said that Zufari quit because of the threatening messages she was receiving on her email and phone.
"She resigned this semester because of the hateful threats and emails and phones messages she was getting. I think it's a terrible injustice, but I do respect her decision," Cornwell told Orlando Sentinel.
Court documents show that Zufari had filed an injunction against the student for "protection against stalking," but she withdrew the request last week.
The school had also received thousands of angry emails from supporters of Polston after the controversy spread beyond the private liberal arts college.
Cornwell said that students who were interviewed by school officials had disputed Polston's allegations against Zufari. The school had also decided that the Polston's failing grade was appropriate after reviewing his essay.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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