Professor bans students from thanking God in graduation statements

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • Prof told Campus Reform that too many students thanked religious figures during last year’s event.
  • A professor at a public university in North Carolina forbade his students from thanking God in personal statements that will be delivered during their departmental graduation ceremony on Friday.

    In an email obtained by Campus Reform, Assistant Professor Eli Hvastkovs, who teaches chemistry at East Carolina University (ECU), instructed his students to prepare a “family friendly” 35­ word personal statement that mentions future plans or “thanks someone.” The students, however, were explicitly forbidden from thanking God.

    "You can't thank God. I'm sorry about this – and I don't want to have to outline the reasons why.” - Professor Eli Hvastkovs   

    “I've had some submissions that needed to be edited. so [sic] here are some guidelines,” the email reads. “1. You can't thank God. I'm sorry about this – and I don't want to have to outline the reasons why.”

    In an interview with Campus Reform late last week, Professor Hvastkovs defended the restrictions and confirmed he sent the email banning giving thanks to God after too many students recognized religious figures during last year’s event.

    “It's not a religious ceremony,” Hvastkovs told Campus Reform, “it's purely educational.”

    Hvastkovs also acknowledged the ban was not a school policy.

    “It's more of a departmental thing, we have a diverse student body,” he said.

    When asked if the university allows students to thank God upon graduation, ECU Executive Director of Communication Mary Schulken told Campus Reform that “the First Amendment allows them to thank God, to thank any force or any individual that they so desire.”

    After Hvastkovs’s interview with Campus Reform, Provost Marilyn Sheerer released an email advising students disregard Hvastkovs’s guidelines.

    Sheerer's response told students that “[r]eligious references of any type will not be restricted,” and the “[u]niversity will only limit these expressions, as permitted by applicable First Amendment law.”

    Send tips of bias and abuse to and follow the author of this article on Twitter: @CalebBonham


    Campus Reform
    @campusreform - -992 min ago

    RT @jaketapper: "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer...acknowledging w/grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God" https://…

    Talya Rotbart
    @IMAZionist - 1 hour ago

    #Israel Studies Professor @UTAustin Hounded by Anti-Israel Pro-Islamo-Nazi Brownshirts @campusreform @ZOA_National

    Shari McGriff
    @ShariMcGriff - 3 hours ago

    @campusreform What is Cornell thinking?? Ridiculous!

    Douglas Graham
    @mtholster - 4 hours ago

    @campusreform Today's college protesters are like black panthers without a bite

    Tim anderson
    @Timanderson91 - 5 hours ago

    @scar1etbeg0nias @campusreform Are you kidding me? Blacks never get passed the mental age of 12-15

    Tim anderson
    @Timanderson91 - 6 hours ago

    @campusreform Isn't that kinda like disciminatory towards people that are straight? :)

    @BenDouglasson - 6 hours ago

    @campusreform .the Campus Cry Bullies are eating it up. They're taught WHAT to think ...Not HOW to think..and getting ripped off.. REFUND?

    Mark Anderson
    @MarkDavidAnder9 - 6 hours ago

    @campusreform wow! I didn't know it was Liberals that were abusive? Go look in a mirror!!!