A professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) sparked controversy after asking students to refrain from using the phrase “God bless you” during class.
The unnamed professor included the request in a list of do’s and don’ts for students in the beginning of the school year, Valley Central reported.
“Please refrain from saying, 'God bless you' during the classes and exams,” the request read. The phrase, said as a courtesy when someone sneezes, was considered by the professor to be too disruptive every time a person sneezes during class.
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Following the first day of class, an image of the teacher’s rules went viral and students at the university expressed mixed reaction.
“It's kind of ridiculous, first amendment, freedom of religion. It's there. We shouldn't have to block that out of school,” student Marcos Villarreal told Valley Central.
“You shouldn't have a boundary on what you believe in, especially in the classroom,” another student, John Taylor said. “I would've not said anything, but it would've bothered me because as common courtesy, I say God bless you to people who sneeze.”
Others saw no problem with the professor's request.
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"It shouldn't really be a problem since it's the teacher's classrooms," student Aaron Bravo said.
The university subsequently released a statement responding to the controversy over the ban.
“The professor's syllabus sought to identify examples of potentially disruptive behavior the professor believed could hinder the classroom learning environment, including use of cellphones,” the statement read.
“The intent was not to limit the religious freedoms of UTRGV students, but to avoid unsolicited comments that might distract others," the statement continued.
After the controversy was reported to the professor, the statement was removed from the syllabus. The professor reportedly plans to address the issue with the class and explain the reasoning behind the request.
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