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12 posts from April 1, 2013

April 01, 2013

Gaffes 101: FAU's reputation taking hit after hit

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.

More from Michael Vasquez here.

Five Things To Know for Monday's Legislative Session

TALLAHASSEE Lawmakers are revving up this week, roughly the halfway point of the 2013 session. Here are five things to watch in Tallahassee on Monday: -Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, will host an event with the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network to discuss efforts to legalize medical marijuana. Several related bill aren’t getting much traction, but there is talk of a ballot initiative. -Speaking of marijuana, The Senate Criminal Justice Committee takes up SB 1140 to ban bongs, the pipes commonly associated with marijuana smoking. A similar measure sailed through a House committee last week. -The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee will hear SB 518, which eliminates sales taxes on manufacturing equipment. The $141 million tax break is one of Gov. Rick Scott’s top priorities. -The Senate’s version of so-called “parent trigger” legislation gets its first hearing. The Education Committee will likely have a large crowd of parents and educators opposed to SB 862. -House Speaker Will Weatherford will speak to the Legislative Black Caucus Monday event, along with Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad. - Tia Mitchell, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau