Following the University of Florida’s announcement of Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) being selected as the lone finalist for president of the institution, those who were opposed certainly made their voices heard, including UF alum Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). However, it is the students at the university that are making the biggest headlines.
On Monday, protestors including students, faculty, and graduate assistants came together to disrupt public forums intended to allow community members the opportunity to engage with the expected president.
Student protesters at the University of Florida have disrupted a forum with Senator Ben Sasse who revealed this week that he is the lone finalist to be the university’s next president. pic.twitter.com/0x9YFYIw4o
— Jeremiah Poff (@JJ_Poff) October 10, 2022
In the video above, students are heard chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ben Sasse has got to go” and include signs calling the Nebraska senator a bigot. Another sign read “UF hates Ben Sasse.”
Due to the disruptions, the public forum for students ended 15 minutes early.
Student groups such as the UF Young Democratic Socialists Association and Graduate Assistants United were in attendance. It appears that the general theme concerning Sasse’s appointment among UF students is that the senator doesn’t “reflect their values.”
“I just think that his voting history, anti-affordable care act, anti-LGBTQ, climate denial in the state of Florida is kind of ridiculous,” stated Jade Jackson, a public health major. She would later state that “He doesn’t support the values of students or even students in general at UF.”
In 2014, Florida State University faced similar problem with displeased students when their selection board gave the nod to John Thrasher, an FSU alum and long-time GOP Florida politician. His final day in office as president of the university was in August of 2021.
At the time, students were concerned with Thrasher's lack of educational experience and his potential for political influence. They wanted "an academic president."
The last few years of Thrasher’s presidency, Florida State became a top-20 public university.
UF currently holds the title for the 5th ranked public university in the U.S.