Rollins College sophomore Marshall Polston will return to class this week following a religious dispute with a Muslim professor that ended in the student’s suspension, The Christian Post reported.
Polston received the suspension on March 24 for allegedly presenting a “threat of disruption within the operations of the college.” According to the sophomore, however, his dismissal was the result of several instances in which he challenged his Middle Eastern Humanities professor, Areeje Zufari, on the topic of Jesus Christ’s life.
Polston claims Zufari targeted him after he refuted the professor’s claims that Jesus was never crucified and that his disciples didn’t think he was divine. The student believes his objections resulted in a failing grade on his first essay.
When Polston emailed Zufari about the grade, allegedly claiming that she was an “incompetent” teacher, the professor reported Polston to the school’s dean of safety, which eventually led to the suspension.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Zufari wrote in emails provided to the court that Polston had been antagonizing her and interrupting her class since the start of the spring semester. The professor also reportedly sought a “protection against stalking” from the Orange County Circuit Court and accused the young man of using “hate speech” and threatening her in the email regarding his first paper.
Polston denies ever threatening his professor. And according to The Christian Post, the reinstatement letter notes that the student was “not responsible” for the statements and actions alleged by Zufari.
“A student’s freedom of speech and expression are the cornerstones of liberty in a free society,” Polston’s attorney, Kenneth Lewis, said in a statement announcing the student’s reinstatement. Lewis is calling for a “full inquiry” into Professor Zufari’s accusations and the “malicious assassination of Polston’s character” that resulted.
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