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Four Years After Jesus Stomp, Florida Atlantic Still Feeling Scandal’s Effects!


Four Years After Jesus Stomp, Florida Atlantic Still Feeling Scandal’s Effects!

Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University’s Jesus stomping scandal is still felt on campus four years later (FAU photo)

BOCA RATON –It’s been four years since Florida Atlantic University embarrassed itself by disciplining a student who refused, as part of a class exercise, to stomp on a piece of paper with the word JESUS written on it.

And the institution of “higher” education is still feeling the effects.

Take former Associate Dean For Students Dr. Rozalia Williams, for example.

Her name might no longer be familiar to news junkies, but Dr. Williams was one of the main players in the 2013 passion play.

It was her decision to suspend Ryan Rotela, the junior at the time who forcefully refused to partake in an intercultural communications exercise where he was asked to write the word JESUS on a piece of paper then throw it to the ground and step on it.

A devout Mormon, Rotela cited religious grounds for his refusal.

Mormon Ryan Rotela, who refused to stomp on the word Jesus written on a piece of paper (CBS12 photo)

In no time, the alt-right media picked up the story, and Florida Atlantic took it on the chin like it never had before. Suddenly, the quiet Boca Raton school was a symbol of an alleged leftist, anti-religion undercurrent in higher education.

Evangelical suckup Gov. Rick Scott even got into the fray with a good dose of cheap outrage and requested a report from the state-supported institution.

Dr. Rozalia Williams

Dr. Rozalia Williams, who is appealing the dismissal of her lawsuit against Florida Atlantic (LinkedIn photo)

Williams, who was just five years away from retirement, was fired within weeks of the scandal, officially for her handling of Jesus freakout.

And Rotela was reinstated, graduated and moved to Colorado, according to records.

The end of the sorry Jesus incident?

Not quite.

When the TV cameras were turned off and Scott went back to running Florida into the ground, Williams sued the school for wrongful termination in a federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

The 63-year-old Williams, who is black, alleged she was the victim of gender, age and race discrimination as well as retaliation when she was handed her walking papers. As evidence, Williams cited the fact the school replaced her with a white male five years younger.

The case didn’t go so well for Williams and, ever so quietly in early May, U.S. District Darrin Gayles agreed with the school motion for summary judgement and dismissed the lawsuit.

Now the whole episode can be put behind us, right?

Not quite.

Last week, Hollywood resident Williams, 63, filed an appeal to the judgment claiming Gayles should not have dismissed the case. The appeals court is set to take a look at the case later this year.

An Florida Atlantic spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment, but by policy, university staffers don’t comment on pending legal actions.

Said Ria Chattergoon, Williams’ lawyer, when asked about the appeal: “The Court dismissed the case on summary judgment. We believe the Court failed to consider key material facts regarding Ms. Williams’ termination in its decision. It is our position that Ms. Williams should have been given the opportunity to present those facts to a jury.”



  1. Dave

    June 12, 2017 at 12:24 am

    You didn’t tell the correct version of the story. The student Rotela was actually suspended for threatening to physically attack the professor – it was a safety issue. Rotela would not have been suspended for not stepping on the paper since that was the entire point of the exercise, which set out to demonstrate the power of symbols (including names).

    This story became a story because the student didn’t accurately report the series of events, the reporter who broke the story didn’t bother to look up all the details (such as the point of the exercise) and the previous FAU President didn’t handle the press properly.

  2. TRUTH

    June 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    If they asked to stomp on the name MLK or Obama the entire school would have been burned to the ground…It goes both ways

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