He says he sees a connection between the subject matter he teaches, astronomy, and his religion, Islam.
But announcing that connection in a darkened classroom with his face covered by a scarf Tuesday got one Tarrant County College adjunct professor suspended indefinitely, said Suzanne Groves, TCC's executive director of communications.
Several students attending Daniel Mashburn's astronomy lecture Tuesday were scared enough by his rant on the moon and the Muslim faith to call campus police. Officers responded on TCC's Northeast campus and questioned Mashburn, but did not arrest him Tuesday evening.
Groves said a TCC investigation into the matter is ongoing, and that Mashburn has been suspended pending the results of that investigation. She said the spring semester was Mashburn's second term teaching at TCC.
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"The class has been taken over by another instructor," Groves said. "And it is meeting at its regularly scheduled time this [Thursday] evening."
Mashburn's comments to the Star-Telegram and other media outlets have been almost as bizarre as students say his behavior in the classroom was Tuesday evening. According to KDFW, Mashburn kept the room dark because he wanted to look at the stars, but students were also frightened because he began to fidget with a device in his pocket at the same time he was talking about religion.
He told the Star-Telegram that his reaction to being suspended was, "I said my dress was modest, and that she bares her arms at me. I get sensitive to both my bare skin and others. Just sensitive to light, sound, smell and more."
The Collegian, TCC's student newspaper, reached Mashburn for comment at his North Richland Hills apartment. He defended his conduct to the paper, saying, "I was trying to charge my phone so I can see the stars. The stars are always watching."
He also told the newspaper that he wanted his students to read both the course textbook and the Quran.
He told KDFW he didn't know why students were afraid of him lecturing on astronomy and Islam in a dark classroom with a scarf over his face. He also said he didn't disclose his preferred method of teaching to TCC when he was hired.
"I keep it secret. I keep it safe," Mashburn told the station. "I do my best, but I am tired of hiding in the shadows. I am tired of fearing their law. I fear Allah."
As for his students, for now they can be confident that the class — and their course schedule — won't be further disrupted.
"Most of the questions we fielded were about the resolution of the class," Groves said. "If the class would continue to make, and it will. But campus police and campus security are also staying vigilant."