Florida New College students organize alternative graduation after DeSantis takeover
Students at the New College of Florida, a small liberal arts college targeted by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this year, are holding an alternative graduation ceremony “against the hostile takeover” of their school.
The “[NEW] Commencement: On Our Terms” will take place Thursday, with the students raising almost $107,000 of their $130,000 goal on GoFundMe.
Graduates and alumni are organizing the event, which will include traditional graduation ceremony aspects along with “bonding activities” such as live music and games.
“The new administration that has spent the past four months attacking our students and community cannot, in good faith, celebrate our graduating students and their accomplishments,” the GoFundMe reads.
On Tuesday, Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, announced she will be the keynote speaker for the alternative ceremony.
“I am honored to be joining you to celebrate your academic achievements & your bravery! You speak your truth to power & fight for freedom to learn & diversity. You’re the future!” Wiley said in a tweet.
The ceremony also takes aim at New College’s choice for commencement speaker, Scott Atlas.
Atlas was an adviser to former President Trump during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic response. He resigned in November 2020 after going against the views of the medical community at the time.
“Dr. Atlas’ perspective and resume are impressive; he is a champion and fighter for free speech and a renowned national leader,” Interim President Richard Corcoran said when announcing Atlas as speaker. “We are happy to welcome him here at New College, where we place a high value on personal freedom and individual autonomy, as Dr. Atlas does.”
New College became a sticking point in DeSantis’s aim at transforming higher education when he replaced the board of trustees with all conservative members, who then proceeded to fire the school’s president and eliminate its diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
“We want this event to be a fulfilling and memorable experience for graduating students that keeps the focus on STUDENTS, rather than an administration desperately trying to maintain normality and instill conformity,” the students said in the GoFundMe.
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