On May 1st, he sent an email to his students to provide them with guidelines about the personal statements they'd be delivering at their graduation ceremony. Let me just reiterate that these are PERSONAL statements that students are allowed to read at their own graduation ceremony. They're personalized. And personal.
The first guideline? "You can't mention God."
Professor Hvastkovs also wrote that he was "sorry about this" and that he didn't want to have to "outline the reasons why."
Well, some reasons why would've been nice, actually, since Hvastkovs totally pulled this rule out of his assular area.
You can see the actual email at the sourcelink.
When questioned about the email, Professor Hvastkovs confirmed he sent it, citing that "too many students thanked religious figures during last year's graduation."
And when pressed, he admitted that the God ban wasn't a school policy, but "more of a departmental thing." In other words, it's his own personal issue, and he decided that there was nothing wrong with inflicting his own personal hang-ups onto his students.
He explained, "...we have a diverse student body."
Um...so? How is that relevant? That diverse student body will likely write some diverse personal statements then. So what?
The university's ED of Communications had to send an email to students telling them to disregard Professor Hvastkovs' guidelines, saying that "religious references of any type will not be restricted" and that the university would only "limit these expressions, as permitted by applicable First Amendment law." She further explained that the First Amendment allows students to thank God, and to thank "any force or any individual that they so desire."
That's nice and all, but I'm curious as to how Professor Hvastkovs might be disciplined as a result of his actions. My guess is that he won't be. At the very least, he ought to take a remedial civics course so that he can understand how his personal desires don't trump the First Amendment.
UPDATE: 5/7/14 - Professor Hvastkovs wrote us to let us know that he has officially responded to this issue, and you can read his statement right here!