Florida Atlantic University

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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Remember the Florida Atlantic University instructor and high-ranking member of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party who told his students to take out a piece of paper, write “JESUS” on it, then put it on the floor and stomp on it?

He’s back.

The Palm Beach Post reports Florida Atlantic University re-hired Deandre Poole after placing him on paid leave. He’ll teach this summer and in the coming academic year, the school announced Friday.

Poole, who received threats after he led the classroom exercise, will only teach online classes through the end of 2013 because of security concerns, said Heather Coltman, the interim dean of FAU’s College of Arts and Letters. She said the school will decide in December whether to give Poole classroom assignments for the spring semester.

FAU hired a consultant to do an “external threat assessment” while it was considering whether to renew Poole’s $43,000 contract for 2013-14, Coltman said. Poole will also receive $5,000 to teach a summer class that begins Monday. …

One of Poole’s students complained about the exercise to a local TV station in March. FAU defended the activity at first. But when the story went viral on the Internet and drew national attention, the university reversed itself and apologized for the lesson and banned it from future classes.

Read more.

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Via Lisa Barron of Newsmax:

Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders has resigned in the wake of students being asked to stomp on Jesus’ name.

The school announced that she resigned late Tuesday and that FAU Board of Trustees Chairman Anthony Barbar had accepted the resignation. Saunders will remain at FAU to take a faculty position, where she will be assigned a special research project to assess the feasibility of developing a physician’s assistant program at the university.

During the course of the past year, Saunders defended a professor who asked students to stomp on a paper after writing the name “Jesus” on it and a failed attempt to name the football stadium after jail contractor Geo Group. Another FAU professor made news when he suggested the Newtown, Conn., shooting in which 20 schoolchildren were killed never took place.

“There is no doubt the recent controversies have been significant and distracting to all members of the university community,” Saunders wrote in her resignation letter, according to an excerpt posted on the school’s website.

“The issues and the fiercely negative media coverage have forced me to reassess my position as the president of FAU. I must make choices that are the best for the university, me and my family,” she said.

Read more.

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