State Watch

Protesters to be banned from Sasse’s confirmation vote at University of Florida

Ben Sasse
AP/Alex Brandon
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nomineeKetanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Sasse is the sole finalist to become the president of the University of Florida, the school said Thursday, and the GOP senator has indicated that he will take the job. That means he could resign in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The University of Florida announced that protesters will be banned from campus buildings on Nov. 1, when the university’s board of trustees are expected to consider Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) to become the school’s next president. 

In a statement on Monday, the university’s outgoing president Kent Fuchs informed the school’s community that it will enforce a two-decade-old regulation prohibiting protests inside buildings on campus. Fuchs said that students who violate the regulation will face disciplinary action under the school’s student code of conduct. 

“UF supports the First Amendment right to free speech and embraces our university as a place where people are able and encouraged to exchange differing viewpoints or express their feelings through peaceful protest,” Fuchs wrote in his statement. “As our core value of freedom and civility states, ‘We are a community that affirms and embraces openness to an inclusive range of viewpoints.’ With this commitment comes an obligation to protect the rights of everyone in our community to speak and to hear.”

“I want to be clear that the university holds sacred the right to free speech, and I strongly encourage you to exercise it,” Fuchs added. “It is a blessing that distinguishes our great country from many others around the world, and as many from those other countries will tell you, we must protect it vigorously.”

Fuchs’ statement come after demonstrators interrupted a Q&A session that Sasse attended earlier this month, where they brought up Sasse’s stance on same-sex marriages and other LGBTQ rights, arguing that he’s not suitable to serve as the school’s new president.  

Sasse announced his intention to retire from his position in Congress to become the university’s new president, saying in a tweet that he was courted with intriguing offers from other universities, but felt that UF’s offer was more “unique.” 

“UF is the most important institution in the nation’s most economically dynamic state. Washington partisanship isn’t going to solve these workforce challenges — new institutions and entrepreneurial communities are going to have to spearhead this work,” Sasse said in a tweet. “If UF wants to go big, I’m excited about the wide range of opportunities.”

In response, Florida’s public university faculty union, the United Faculty of Florida, said in a statement that it has considered taking legal action against the school in an effort to learn more about the school’s search for a new university president. 

“I stood before committees and legislators earlier this year and told them to their faces what would happen if they passed a presidential searches exemption, but legislators on both sides of the aisle ignored me, their constituents and thousands of members of the higher education community,” UFF President Andrew Gothard said in a statement. “We didn’t want this law, but we without a doubt plan to enforce the shreds of transparency still left in this process.”

Tags Ben Sasse Ben Sasse Florida Kent Fuchs Kent Fuchs LGBTQ rights Protests Same-sex marriage in the United States University of Florida

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