Rollins College Says Student’s Suspension Was Not Related to Clash With Professor

The Christian student who was previously reported to have been suspended from Rollins College following a clash with a Muslim professor was not disciplined because of his dispute with the professor, the college now says. Instead, the punishment stemmed from comments the student made on social media to another student, the president of the Florida liberal-arts institution told The Orlando Sentinel.

Meanwhile, the professor involved in the dispute, Areej Zufari, an adjunct instructor of humanities, has resigned.

The student, Marshall Polston, had clashed with Ms. Zufari over several weeks before he was suspended late last month. The suspension drew national attention, especially on conservative-leaning websites, after Mr. Polston said he had stood up to the professor for attacking Christianity in class. The college received 10,000 angry emails and letters in response, most of them siding with Mr. Polston.

But Grant H. Cornwell, the college’s president, told the Sentinel that Mr. Polston was suspended in connection with “vulgar” and “mean-spirited” comments he had written to another student, not because of his conflict with Ms. Zufari. Ultimately, he said, the college determined that Mr. Polston’s posts were not a specific threat, so he was allowed to return. The college had not previously given a reason for Mr. Polston’s suspension and reinstatement.

A lawyer for Mr. Polston said the social-media comments were no more than a joke and that the classroom dispute was the real reason for the suspension.

Mr. Cornwell said Ms. Zufari had resigned following “hateful threats.” He called her departure “a terrible injustice,” but said he respected her decision.

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