Even with new dorms and its own football team, the challenge for Florida Atlantic University has been simply getting noticed — more-established state universities such as the University of Florida often gobble up most of the media attention.
This semester, though, FAU has no problem attracting the limelight. The catch: FAU’s newfound name recognition is happening in the worst kind of way.
In the span of a few short months (and spring semester still isn’t over), FAU faculty and/or administrators have bizarrely questioned whether the Sandy Hook mass shooting really occurred, agreed to name the football stadium after a private prison operator known for human rights violations, and, most recently, received national scorn for a so-called “Jesus stomp” classroom lesson that infuriated Christians and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
The backlash to that class lesson — which involved students being told to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, and then put that paper on the ground and step on it — has been so strong that FAU on Friday placed the professor involved on administrative leave, citing concerns for his “personal safety.”
The string of missteps have highlighted how quickly a damaging news story can go viral in the social-media age, and FAU leaders are quick to acknowledge they’ve had their hands full.