Rollins College has reinstated Marshall Polston, the Christian student suspended last week over conflict with a Muslim professor. His attorney said he plans to return to school next week.
“A student’s freedom of speech and expression are the cornerstones of liberty in a free society,” attorney Kenneth Lewis said in a statement March 30, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Lewis called for a full inquiry into the actions of the professor, Areej Zufari.
Rollins College President Grant Cornwell declined to comment on the situation due to student privacy laws. The reinstatement is the result of a disciplinary hearing for Polston.
The March 24 suspension came after months of conflict between Polston and Zufari.
Marshall Polston, a 20-year-old sophomore, claimed he was suspended for defending his faith. School officials at Rollins College, a small private school outside Orlando, Fla., maintain he was suspended because of threatening behavior toward the professor.
Areej Zufari, an adjunct professor of Middle Eastern humanities, filed a “protection against stalking” request against Polston on March 24, the same day school officials notified Polston of his suspension for violating of the college’s code of community standards.
Reports of the back and forth between Polston and Zufari paint a conflicting picture of what led up to the suspension.
Polston told the Central Florida Post that Zufari made several statements in class against the Christian faith, stating that Jesus Christ was not crucified and that His disciples did not believe He was God. Polston also claimed Zufari joked with another Muslim student who said gays and adulterers should have certain body parts cut off, in keeping with Sharia law.
Polston said he stood up for his faith and challenged Zufari about the Sharia law comment in class.
Zufari claimed Polston was disruptive. She emailed school officials after several incidents, saying Polston monopolized class time with “antagonizing interjections,” according to reporting by The Orlando Sentinel.
Polston was asked to stop attending class and given the option of an independent study in its place, according to released email correspondence. But on March 23, Zufari filed a police report alleging Polston showed up outside her classroom to harass her. Polston claims he was not on campus at the time of the incident.
Rollins suspended Polston the following day.
— by Kiley Crossland