The choice of Republican Senator Ben Sasse as the new president of the University of Florida has sparked opposition from some student organizations at the sprawling central Florida campus.
Left-leaning organizations across the 50,000 student body began organizing protests against Sasse’s hiring immediately following the announcement that Sasse was the sole finalist to become the university’s president.
“We wholly reject UF’s decision to proceed with Republican Senator Ben Sasse as the only finalist in UF’s presidential search,” The UF Young Democratic Socialist organization wrote in an Instagram post.
“This selection does not reflect the diversity of our Gainesville and University of Florida community and blatantly harms of communities.” The College Democrats wrote in a statement. “This only further illustrates how UF serves as a puppet for Tallahassee politics and Ron DeSantis.”
Organizations like the College Democrats, Planned Parenthood Generation Action and the Alachua County Labor Coalition organized the protests during Sasse’s open forums on Monday afternoon. Sasse scheduled three back-to-back open forums—one with faculty, one with students and a third with administration and staff.
Sasse left the second student forum about 15 minutes early after approximately 300 protesters entered the ballroom where the event was taking place.
Protesters called Sasse homophobic and racist, calling out his conservative views on marriage.
Students held signs reading, “Get your Sasse out of our swamp” and chanted, “Ben Sasse has got to go.”
The protests forced Sasse’s next forum, with staff and employees, to go online.
The University of Florida has not commented on Sasse’s visit to the school or the student protests.