Florida Atlantic University

A French teacher at Cypress Bay High School in Broward County has been suspended for five days for calling a Muslim student a “rag-head,” “Taliban” and a “terrorista.”

Maria Valdes had repeatedly referred to Deyab-Houssein Wardani by those epithets until the Wardani’s parents finally complained to the school.

The Sun Sentinel reports:

Youssef Wardani, father of the 14-year-old student, called the decision “disgusting.’ He said he was working with the Council on American–Islamic Relations to pursue some sort of legal action against the district.

“I’ll keep sitting in their face until they recognize what they’ve done,” said Wardani, an engineer in Weston.

As part of the discipline, teacher Maria Valdes will also undergo diversity training. Valdes, who has been working in the district since 2004, can appeal the suspension. She did not return a call seeking comment.

The district charged Valdes with misconduct in office, incompetency, immorality and violating School Board policy.

Wardani and students from Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University protested outside the Broward School Board building in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month, demanding the district fire or suspend the teacher for a year.

District Superintendent Robert Runcie, who’s black, said he understood the family’s misgivings because of his own personal experiences.

“I hope you can understand, given my life experience, why I took this situation seriously. Any situation involving wrongful treatment of our students is something we absolutely don’t tolerate,” he said.

Runcie says the situation “was handled appropriately,” but Mr. Wardani was not assuaged.

“You have failed every teacher, parent and child in this district,” he said.

Read the full story.

h/t to BizPac Review.

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IMAGE: Rob Chandanais/Flickr

Before enrolling in classes at Florida Atlantic University, it seems prospective students have to offer up some very personal details.

Student Cheryl Soley was pretty miffed: “I just don’t understand why questions pertaining to how many times I’ve had sex have anything to do with campus life.”

WPTV Channel 5 in West Palm Beach reports:

Among the questions:

-How many times have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?

-With how many different people have you had sex (including oral) in the last three months?

-If you had sex (including oral) in the last three months, how many times had you used a condom?

The questions are part of a required online course called “Think About It.”

“It has to be changed. It is a total invasion of privacy,” Soley says.

But an FAU spokesperson says Federal Law requires all universities to offer training to students about sexual assault and prevention.

“Nationally, approximately 20 percent of women report being assaulted while in college. To help reduce this percentage, federal law now requires all universities offer training to students about sexual assault and prevention, and the U.S. Department of Education recommends mandatory training for all incoming students. To comply with this federal mandate, universities throughout Florida and the nation are rolling out similar training modules,” FAU spokesperson Joshua Glanzer said in a statement released to WPTV.

Of the three questions listed above, I’m curious as to how the first two actually pertain to “universities offer[ing] training to students about sexual assault and prevention.”

Soley is worried about confidentiality, too: “How do I know who is viewing that information…and can it be used against me?”

Spokesman Glanzer noted that out of 8,000 students required to take the training, only one percent have “expressed concerns.”

Read the full article.

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How’s this for a teachable moment? The former journalism adviser to Florida Atlantic University’s student newspaper, the University Press, started his own website to compete with student journalists for campus news.

“This website was created for the express purpose of shaming the University Press into doing better with its own,” Michael Koretzky says on his new site, Fautocratic:

How? Public humiliation. Because nothing else has worked. Not hand-holding, not cajoling, not even bribery. …

So I’ll cover FAU news more and faster by myself than the two dozen savvy students who run FAU’s news operation – and who grew up not knowing a time before the Internet, and who love to make fun of me for being old and growing up when pagers were all the rage.

He includes this editorial note at the bottom of his second story, an in-depth, first-person profile of an FAU administrator who just resigned:

UP staffers: You can do long-form journalism online. This particular post isn’t straight news or feature, of course. But you have more room to be weird online than in print. And it doesn’t take long to go long. I wrote and designed this less than 48 hours of Brown’s resignation. If this old-fart adviser can do it, so can you, dammit.

College Media Matters, which calls Koretzky “the Simon Cowell of college media,” notes that Koretzky has been shaming college journalism for years, taking particular aim at uninspired news websites.

Koretzky came close to getting fined $6,000 and suspended by FAU’s student government on an ethics charge in 2004, in the middle of a dispute between the government and the paper. He said FAU “fired” him in 2010.

Koretzky told College Media Matters:

Online [newspapers] can have verve and attitude, it can let links and curated video handle the exposition so you can get to the point, and it can use animation and images in ways print can’t. Yet, when you talk to college journalists about beefing up their website, you hear this in reply: “Yeah, I guess we could write a story. Maybe news, maybe feature, maybe opinion. Maybe run a photo…” WTF?

Read the whole article here.

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Under the troubling campus news category comes the story of a Florida man accused of secretly videotaping men of all ages as they urinated in a Florida Atlantic University bathroom, then posting those videos on online porn sites.

The 40-year-old man, who stopped working as coordinator of academic support services for the school’s libraries in August, has been charged with 17 counts of video voyeurism, CBS News Miami reports.

An investigation into video voyeurism on the Boca Raton campus began last June when a student went to FAU police and said a 30-second clip which showed him urinating in a restroom had been uploaded to Pornhub.com.

… Other videos attached to this profile included unknown males urinating, masturbating and a couple having sex in the restroom. The videos appeared to have been shot either over or under a stall door or partition. Several appeared to have been shot through a one inch peephole in one of the stall’s partitions. …

According to his arrest report, (the man) admitted to shooting the videos on his iPhone and posting them online for the gratification of others. He reportedly said he would upload the videos to the various sites from his cell phone or from his FAU-issued laptop.

Read more.

A Florida Atlantic University communications professor known for conspiracy theories has posted a series of pictures, audio clips, memos and news reports on his blog that he believes adds up to indicate the Navy Yard shooting in Washington D.C. was staged.

Professor James Tracy, who argued the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre “did not happen as reported — or may not have happened at all” and called the Boston Marathon bombings a “mass casualty drill” has posted his finding under the headline “Artifacts From The DC Navy Yard Shooting” on his Memory Hole Blog.

“Nothing seems to be adding up,” Tracy says in one of the videos on his blog post, adding terms like “crisis actors” to his analysis. He calls his “smoking gun evidence” an Associated Press article on the shootings date-stamped September 15, 2013–one day before Navy Yard shooting. He says he doesn’t buy the idea it could have been “just a glitch.”

The blog is not affiliated with Florida Atlantic University.

Much of his data was sent in by his blog’s readers, and includes photos that “depict one apparent shooting victim being attended to by pedestrians, as police officers stand by and an individual in plainclothes zones off part of the scene with crime tape,” Tracy states.

Other alleged evidence cited on the blog includes a 45-minute audio from the shooting that “at the very end it is determined that they will not be needing a large staging area for non-existent (my words) casualties.”

He describes another series of pictures as sketchy as well: “In this photograph pedestrians attend to an apparent shooting victim while a police officer (or soldier) looks on close by. Another figure that appears to be in plainclothes is visible demarcating area with crime scene tape. … First responders at the scene exhibiting perplexity and/or boredom.”

The blog also notes: “Witnesses have been documented stating that evacuation drills were known to have been taking place at the Navy Yard in the lead-up to the September 16 shooting event.”

Most news outlets, however, have identified the gunman as 34-year-old former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis. Police say he shot and killed 12 people in a Washington Navy Yard on Monday.

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The university that made national headlines in the spring after one of its lecturers asked students to write the name JESUS on paper and step on it has told a local news station that professors are allowed to assign the exercise in class.

Citing academic freedom, WPTV News Channel 5 in Florida interviewed campus officials and learned that educators at Florida Atlantic University can ask students to take part in the notorious exercise that deeply offended at least one student’s religious convictions.

Technically the ‘Jesus Stomp’ exercise is allowed back in the classroom, but that doesn’t mean faculty will use it.

“People will think twice about using that particular exercise in that setting, although there have been faculty who say they want to use it just to make a point,” said professor Tim Lenz.

In a letter to the State University System, FAU’s provost outlined extensive training for faculty come fall. It will focus on how to deal with controversy while respecting academic freedom.

The news report contradicts a statement the university put out shortly after word of the incident broke that stated: “This exercise will not be used again. The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

So much for respecting all religions. A professor would never ask students to step on Mohammad, but it’s OK to step on Jesus. He’s used to it, after all.

Read more.

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