Fight for academic freedom takes shape on FAU campus

Professors demand support from FAU administration

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Some FAU professors fear the culture is changing on campus - a shift that concerns them about how they teach their next lesson.

"I think we're all on alert now, like a light goes off in your head. In the classroom we're thinking 'what is going to happen to me if I did this?'" says communications instructor Manju Pendakur, who has been teaching at FAU for 5 years.

That fear led 50 students and faculty to march to the center of campus Tuesday hoping to get the administrators attention.

"What we want is the administration to standup and make a statement about academic freedom, and we want it soon," says United Faculty of Florida representative Chris Robe.

This started when community outrage forced the administration to remove a class assignment on symbolism.

Those rallying are also in support of Deandre Poole, the instructor now under fire for the "Step on Jesus" symbolism assignment. His former students hope he comes back to the classroom.

"I always appreciated how he facilitated tough discussions in a way that allowed people to express their view," says FAU student Volrick Higgs.

The university released a statement Tuesday saying FAU welcomes intellectual debate and upholds the freedom of expression.

A response to Florida Governor Rick Scott's request for an incident report has yet to be answered by the State Board of Governors.

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