Students Plan Protest with List of Demands on Sasse’s First Day As University of Florida President
Former Senator Ben Sasse made headlines last year after he announced his plan to retire from the Senate and throw his hat in to become the President of the University of Florida.
Before Sasse even begins his first day as President, he is already facing opposition from student activist groups, graduate assistants, and some faculty.
UF’s Faculty Senate held an emergency meeting in late October and had a no-confidence vote that overwhelmingly passed 72-16.
Students are planning protests as Sasse comes to campus on Monday to begin his first day.
University of Florida students to protest President Ben Sasse asking him to: Maintain pre-existing commitments to inclusivity, equity and diversity and Commit to protecting tenure for UF faculty. Will @UF meet same fate as @NewCollegeofFL? https://t.co/I5dvdBVAR2
— Blanca Mesa (@blancamesa) February 2, 2023
The Gainesville Sun, a local Florida newspaper, reported that Sasse “will be greeted by protestors Monday afternoon outside the school’s administration building as he officially takes the helm of the top-5 public university.”
Protesters released a slate of demands that included raises for college staff, which included “Market equity raises for staff, “to “Publicly disavow attacks from Tallahassee on academic and free speech,” and “Maintain pre-existing commitments to inclusivity, equity, and diversity.”
Many believe that the demand to ‘disavow’ attacks on ‘academic and free speech’ is a shot at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Liberal educators have taken exception to DeSantis’ decision to increase scrutiny on educational institutions that teach concepts such as critical race theory and invest large sums of money in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs.
Conservatives have said this will be an early test of Sasse’s mettle after becoming a more moderate voice in the Senate before his retirement.
Time for the true test of Ben Sasse: namely whether he really is/was a conservative who just principled issues w/ Donald J. Trump (they did/do exist), or whether like w/ Bill Kristol, he became full Democrat using Trump as pretext: https://t.co/s4JW2Q7gLL
— The Kosher Red Pill (@KosherRedPill) February 4, 2023
In the coming weeks, the public will see how Sasse responds as he faces pressure from both the left and right wings.
UF Graduate Assistants United, a labor union representing the University of Florida’s graduate students, tweeted footage of Sasse entering a police vehicle as an onlooker said, “We don’t want you here,” and screaming could be heard. The organization tweeted, “This is what a coward looks like. This will be your life every day if you accept a position here. @BenSasse.”
— UF Graduate Assistants United (@uf_gau) October 10, 2022
The same organization promoted the protest that will be held on Monday outside Tigert hall, sarcastically remarking that they want to give the former Senator a ‘warm welcome’ on his first day as University President.
Monday is Ben Sasse's first day as president. Let's give him a warm welcome to the swamp. 🐊 pic.twitter.com/2TR5YIGygW
— UF Graduate Assistants United (@uf_gau) February 3, 2023
Sasse commented on the previous protests held against him, “Obviously, I wish they didn’t have the position they had, but I strongly support the right of people to protest and exercise their free speech rights. So I won’t say I precisely welcome the protesters, but I sort of intellectually and constitutionally happily welcome the protesters.” He said.
Sasse’s appointment to the University of Florida is one of the multiple appointments that aims to restore Florida’s universities to ideological neutrality as voters and the Floridian government believes they have become too left-leaning.
Earlier this year, DeSantis appointed a fresh slate of board members to the New College of Florida, the honor college of the state university system, after saying the school has been “captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning.”
“In remaking the board at New College, the DeSantis administration said the school was “completely captured by a political ideology that puts trendy, truth-relative concepts above learning” — anyone know what a “trendy truth related concept is,” & why the truth is bad
— Jo Ciavaglia (@JoCiavaglia) February 3, 2023