- Approximately 100 protesters gathered at the University of Florida (UF) Monday to Ben Sasse during his first day as university president.
- The protesters, led by the school’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter, waited outside Sasse’s office to deliver a list of demands including commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and tenure for university professors.
- “This group of students … has been protesting since October — their voices have been heard and it appears that the university is not going to bend the knee to them,” Emily Sturge, a UF student, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Nearly 100 protesters rallied at the University of Florida (UF) on Monday afternoon to protest now-President Ben Sasse on his first day on the job, with many crowding in front of his office, according to various social media posts.
Protesters, led by the UF Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) chapter, gathered outside of Tigert Hall at 2 p.m. on the Gainesville campus to demonstrate against Sasse, who formerly served as a Republican Senator for Nebraska, according to the group’s Instagram page. The group listed a series of demands for Sasse, which included market equity raises and a commitment toward advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
“We are sick and tired of having our rights and freedoms set aflame, and this so-called president hasn’t even started work yet,” the group wrote on Instagram. “Join us to demand better. We know a better campus is possible. But we MUST fight for it.”
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The group’s demands were read during the protest, with one demand urging Sasse to commit to protecting tenure for university professors, which the DeSantis’ administration has advocated for revising, according to a Twitter video. Another demand insisted he commit “to non-compliance with targeted list-making activities (i.e, attempts to enforce HB7).”
Recently, the DeSantis administration requested public colleges and universities to submit detailed reports outlining how they spent state-issued funding on DEI and Critical Race Theory (CRT) programming. It also requested data about the number of people universities treated for “gender dysphoria.”
I’m at a protest again President Ben Sasse on his first day on the job in front of Tigert Hall. There are about 100 people present. @TheAlligator pic.twitter.com/tdBEwUos1w
— Alissa Gary (@AlissaGary1) February 6, 2023
In contrast, Emily Sturge, a student at the university, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that she hoped Sasse would take a firm stance against taxpayer-funded DEI programs on campus.
“According to UF’s student newspaper … UF spent $5 million on diversity initiatives over the past year,” she said. “I’d like to see Sasse redirect these funds to things like academic scholarships and updating classrooms. I hope Sasse brings change to the woke ideals taught in the classroom and stops the reckless spending by the university.”
The group also demanded that Sasse “publicly disavows attacks from Tallahassee on academic and free speech,” according to its Instagram.
“This group of students … have been protesting since October — their voices have been heard and it appears that the university is not going to bend the knee to them,” Sturge said.
Hundreds of students disrupted a forum featuring Sasse in October when he was being considered for the position. The event ended approximately 15 minutes early as protesters, who held signs complaining that Sasse was a Republican and a homophobe, flooded into the room.
UF announced it would enforce a ban on indoor protesting as a result, Politico reported.
Students, faculty and staff waited outside of Sasse’s office to deliver the demands, according to its Instagram.
Sasse said Monday that his mission is to ensure “UF prepares [students] to be leaders during a time of disruption and change,” according to the UF Twitter account.
“This is going to be exciting,” he wrote. “We’re going to engage ideas, build trust and sharpen each other.”
The YDSA chapter, UF’s president’s office and UF did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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