A student who said a Florida Atlantic University employee insulted her and spit toward her as a religious affront stood at the school’s entrance Wednesday flanked by supporters asking for a formal apology from FAU.
The employee, who works in the housing department but remains unidentified, admits wrongdoing and has apologized to the student, university spokeswoman Lisa Freed said in a written statement Wednesday. FAU disciplined the 20-year employee, and she will attend sensitivity training, Freed said.
The controversy began when student Sana Akhtar, 23, said she was peacefully protesting with a group of Muslim students and allies when controversial Middle East historian Daniel Pipes, whom they view as anti-Islamic, spoke on Oct. 30. Akhtar said the employee told her to go back to where she came from, spit on a flier Akhtar handed her and spit toward Akhtar.
Freed’s statement said the employee feigned spitting and is sorry for her actions. She has asked to meet with Akhtar to further express her remorse.
The Pembroke Pines-based Council for American-Islamic Relations sponsored the news conference to ask the FAU board of trustees for a formal condemnation of what it views as discrimination and harassment and a formal apology to the student.
“I’m a Muslim. I come to peace. Islam does not teach hate,” said Akhtar, who did not file a police report because she was concerned that the employee might lose her job. “I figured the right way to approach the issue was to talk to her.”
The employee, who was off-duty at the time of incident, apologized after they spoke, Akhtar said.FAU released an initial statement on Nov. 2 that noted the school’s pride in its diversity, and commitment to open debate. That was before Akhtar met with FAU officials. Even though she met with them after the Nov. 2 statement, Akhtar said Wednesday that she is not satisfied and wants the school to show it does not condone a discriminatory environment on campus.