Georgia Professor’s Rule on ‘Bless You’ Is Removed From Syllabus After Uproar

[Updated (8/28/2014, 5:50 a.m.) with news of the rule's removal.]

The College of Coastal Georgia said on Wednesday that a chemistry professor had removed a rule from his syllabus that had warned students that they faced grade reductions for disrupting class by saying “bless you” when someone sneezes.

News of the rule went viral after drawing the ire of national conservative news media.

The college said the professor, Leon C. Gardner, had made the rule to stop class disruptions and not to advance any religious or political viewpoint.

On his class syllabus, Mr. Gardner wrote that saying “bless you” is “especially rude” and that disruptive behaviors could result in a deduction of as much as 15 percent of the final grade. Other examples of disruptive behaviors on his list included being late to class and getting up to sharpen a pencil.

The college said that Mr. Gardner had removed the “bless you” example from his syllabus and that no student had ever been punished for violating that rule.

“The professor’s intent was to explain that disruptive behavior is not allowed in the classroom,” the college said in written statement. “The professor, who used other examples such as turning off cellphones prior to class and not arriving late, has removed the example and stated that no student has been disciplined or expelled from his class based on that example. The college is conducting a full review.”

BRUNSWICK | A College of Coastal Georgia professor has warned students he would lower the grades of students who say “Bless you” after someone sneezes during class, a spokesman for the college confirmed Wednesday.But the ban on “Bless you” is intended to stop class disruptions and is not a curb on freedom of speech or religion or any reflection of the professor’s religious or political philosophy, the spokesman said.

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