'The Inmates Do Not Get to Run the Asylum Here': DeSantis Touts Florida's Handling of Pro-Palestine Demonstrations

'The Inmates Do Not Get to Run the Asylum Here': DeSantis Touts Florida's Handling of Pro-Palestine Demonstrations

DeSantis juxtaposed Florida's handling of Palestinian protestors against other colleges canceling their graduation ceremonies

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
May 7, 2024

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL—Governor Ron DeSantis lauded the Sunshine State's expedited snuffing out of pro-Palestinian college protests and encampments, prompted by the University of Southern California and Columbia University canceling their main graduation ceremonies due to unsafe environments.

"You can't commandeer property that doesn't belong to you, you cannot disrupt the operations of a university, and you can't weaponize your protests to attack other people," DeSantis said at a Tuesday morning press conference. "They should not be able to camp out on university lawns,"

"I know they tried to do that at [the University of Florida] and [Florida State University] and they got escorted out very quickly, and that's what should happen at Florida universities," he continued. "The inmates do not get to run the asylum here."

On Florida campuses, protests demanding divestment of university funds away from Israel were quickly quelled by the administration and campus police. 40 total protestors were arrested statewide, with tensions escalating at Tampa's University of South Florida campus when police tear-gassed demonstrators to disperse crowds.

The five students arrested at Tallahassee's Florida State University, meanwhile, received one-year campus bans for putting up tents after being told not to. The two who were set to graduate during their ban will not be able to walk at the ceremony.

Westwards, the University of Southern California (USC) unknowingly set a precedent by canceling their main graduation ceremony, their keynote address from a popular film director, and honorary degrees to tennis star Billie Jean King due to what they said was an unsafe environment created by increasingly popular protests.

Columbia University in New York soon followed suit, announcing yesterday that their university-wide commencement would be canceled in favor of smaller, individual ceremonies. This followed their decision last week to move classes and final exams online.

"It’s sad and pathetic that Columbia University canceled their university-wide commencement because of the out-of-control pro-Hamas protests," DeSantis wrote on X Monday afternoon. "Last week, I directed Florida’s Colleges and Universities to ensure commencements were not canceled or disrupted. Our students deserve that, and we champion law and order in Florida."

Students set to graduate college in 2024 are the same kids who did not have a high school graduation due to Covid-canceled classes. This double-whammy situation has caused Speaker of the House Mike Johnson to once again call on Columbia's board to fire President Dr. Minouche Shafik.

He originally called for her ouster when he visited the campus when their encampments were still up.

As tensions rage and ceremonies are canceled, colleges nationwide are facing an uproar of protests: just yesterday, as the University of Chicago disbanded a pro-Palestinian encampment on school grounds, demonstrators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) broke through a police barricade to retake their encampment.

As of May 2nd, encampments have been set up on more than 80 college campuses nationwide with an estimated 1,300 arrests since Columbia kicked off the first protest on April 17th.

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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