Let me gladly join PZ in encouraging people to write to the University of Central Florida in support of Webster Cook, the student who committed the horrible crime of not eating his communion wafer. For that great crime, 33 of 35 fellow student senators present voted to impeach Cook, who still faces possible charges by the university and even possibly expulsion from UCF. Why is UCF involved in a dispute over religious rules at all? Good question. Good luck getting a good answer.
But this gets much worse. Now a Catholic student group is going after Benjamin Collard, a friend of Cook’s who was with him at the church service but didn’t do anything at all.
“I tried to look at my class schedule,” Collard said. “There was a hold placed on my account that I couldn’t sign up for classes. I went to the office of Student conduct to see what was going on and they told me Catholic Campus Ministries filed charges against me.”
Collard learned that he has been charged with misconduct, disruptive conduct and giving false identification, the exact same charges as Webster.
Collard has been silent since the episode but when he learned of the charges, he decided he’d be silent no longer.
He said during the incident he sat silently while everything else around him was happening.
“I didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t say anything,” he said. “While the situation, disruption happened, I was sitting in my seat looking forward, I did nothing.”
“I never spoke to a university official, I never lied about who I was,” Collard added. “I never engaged in any disruptive conduct. I just think this is absolutely disgusting that they’re going after me.”
Now Collard has been swept up in the middle of the controversy with Cook and both students fighting for their future at the university.
“Just being associated with this can affect my future,” Collard said. “I had nothing to do with this.”
Both students face expulsion, suspension or probation. A hearing is scheduled for next week.
We need to support both of these students against the witch burners. I urge you all to write to the UCF president. What should you say? You can start with informing the school that what took place at a religious ceremony, unless an actual crime was committed, is absolutely none of the school’s business. The school has no authority to enforce a religion’s rules against “desecration.”