Eli Hvastkovs, an assistant professor at East Carolina University, recently told his students not to mention "God" during the chemistry department's graduation ceremony on Friday in Greenville, N.C.
Professor Hvastkovs told his students to write a short speech, which could mention future plans and/or thank someone, but could not mention "God."
In an email sent to students, Professor Hvastkovs wrote:
I've had some submissions that needed to be edited. so [sic] here are some guidelines. 1. You can't thank God. I'm sorry about this – and I don't want to have to outline the reasons why.
“It's not a religious ceremony,” Professor Hvastkovs told Campus Reform, “It's purely educational.”
While the "God" ban was not campus-wide, Professor Hvastkovs added, “It's more of a departmental thing, we have a diverse student body."
In an interview with Campus Reform, East Carolina University's Executive Director of Communication Mary Schulken stated, “The First Amendment allows them to thank God, to thank any force or any individual that they so desire.”
Schulken also overruled Professor Hvastkovs in an email to students that said:
Religious references of any type will not be restricted.
“The professor instituted a self-imposed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy when it comes to religion in a classroom, and students came to Campus Reform really upset that the professor was not allowing them to really acknowledge and thank... people and God, for instance, during this time of celebration,” Campus Reform editor-in-chief Caleb Bonham told Fox News.