The liberal arts are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person to know in order to take an active part in civic life that, in Ancient Greece, included participating in public debate and defending oneself in court.
Rollins College is a private liberal arts college in Winter Park, Florida, which is anything but liberal in the classical sense. Rather, Rollins College is the antithesis of liberal arts in its intolerance for dissenting views, suppression of public debate, and hostility toward Christianity.
Marshall Polston, a 21-year-old conservative Christian sophomore at Rollins College, was suspended after speaking out when his Muslim instructor, Areej Zufari, told her class that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a hoax, and after one of his classmates voiced approval of Sharia law by saying that homosexuals should be punished by having their body parts chopped off.
Note: The news media reported several inaccuracies:
- Areej Zufari’s first name is Areej, not Areeje. (In the news accounts below, I use the correct name “Areej” instead of Areeje.)
- Academic titles and degrees do mean something: Zufari is not a professor; she is an Adjunct Instructor of Humanities at Rollins College, with an MLS degree (source: Rollins Evening Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017). That means:
- Zufari is not a ladder tenure-track faculty, but is appointed on a temporary basis.
- Zufari does not have a Ph.D., so she should not be called “Dr.” which is how Rollins College’s letter to Polston addresses her. Her degree is MLS, Master of Library Science. The letter also erroneously calls Zufari “Areeje,” which goes to show Rollins College can’t even get right its faculty’s name and academic degree.
Polston told Central Florida Post that Areej Zufari, who teaches a “Muslim Humanities” course at Rollins, said the crucifixion of Jesus was a hoax and that his disciples did not believe he was God.
Polston said he challenged Zufari on this point during a class discussion, after which she failed him on a major essay. Polston said, “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.”
But Zufari refused to explain why she gave a 52% grade for the essay. She then reported Polston to the Dean of Safety at Rollins and cancelled class, claiming Polston was making her feel “unsafe.”
When classes resumed, Zufari decided to focus on a hot-button issue, the application of Sharia Law. During the discussion, according to Polston, another student made a shocking statement.
As recounted by Polston, the Muslim male student, who had demonstrated a very strict adherence to the Quaran in previous group talks, “stated that a good punishment for gays, adulterers, and thieves was the removal of a certain body part, as determined by Sharia law. It took a few seconds for me to realize that he actually said that, especially after what this community has faced with the tragic loss of life at Pulse” nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Several students, of both Islamic and Christian backgrounds, thought Zufari should have reported what the male Muslim said, but their request fell on deaf ears. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, even reported the incident to the FBI, thinking it was better to say something than just ignore it.
That’s when Polston was summoned to the Dean of Safety’s office to discuss his probable suspension and how he was making Rollins College “unsafe” because of his difference of opinion with Zufari and the hard-line Muslim student.
“They made it clear that they had not gotten a report about what the [Muslim] student said, and were more concerned about the danger I was causing to the campus. What danger? A difference of opinion in a college classroom is nothing out of the ordinary and certainly not dangerous. It was surreal and degrading. The bad grade was upsetting, but they were literally refusing to acknowledge the dangers posed by someone who advocated chopping off body parts on campus.”
On March 25, 2017, Polston received a letter from Rollins College’s Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs & Dean of Students, informing him that he is summarily suspended from the college for behaviors that “constituted a threat of disruption within the operations of the College and jeopardize the safety and well-being of members of the College community”.
During the period of summary suspension, Polston is barred from attending classes or participating in college activities or privileges. The letter continues:
In addition to the summary suspension, I am mandating that you refrain from contacting Dr. [sic] Areeje [sic] Zufari until the end of academic year 2016-2017. This No Contact Order will be automatically renewed each academic year until you are no longer enrolled at the College.
To add injury upon injury, Zufari filed a police report with the Winter Park Police Department, claiming Polston violated the order by showing up to class to harass her.
But Central Florida Post points out Zufari had made a false claim because during the hours the class was held, Polston was with his elderly grandfather traveling to Daytona Beach for the opening of Embry Riddle College’s MicaPlex. Polston even provided a receipt from a Chipolte restaurant in Orlando’s Dr. Phillips area, and stills of video surveillance showing him purchasing food during the time of the class. Polston said:
“I will be releasing witness statements shortly proving I could not have been where Professor [sic] Zufari said I was Thursday night. It’s shameful that she lied to the police.”
Central Florida Post reached out to Rollins College’s media relations team and Zuhari, but both refused to respond.
Central Florida Post concludes that:
Given the evidence we have gathered, and the refusal of either the professor or Rollins College to address this matter, we believe that Rollins College should immediately suspend Professor [sic] Zufari and open an investigation into what actually happened.
Christian Post points out that this is not the first time Rollins College has been in the news for actions it has taken against Christian students:
- In 2013, the college kicked InterVarsity Christian Fellowship off campus because the student group does not allow non-Christian students to become leaders in the organization, which is a violation of the college’s anti-discrimination policy.
- Later in 2013, four members of InterVarsity were told they could no longer hold informal Bible studies in the common area of their dorm suite. (FoxNews)
Grant H. Cornwell
President of Rollins College
1000 Holt Ave. – 2711
Email: [email protected]
H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV and CP.
Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds