Hundreds storm to UF President Ben Sasse’s office protesting his first day on the job

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 7:30 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - It wasn’t a typical first day on the job for the University of Florida’s new president, Ben Sasse, as hundreds protested his first day outside of Tigert Hall.

Students, faculty, staff, and alumni began chanting outside of the building at 2 p.m., but eventually made their way inside and all the way up to Sasse’s office door.

“He sent out an email ‘oh we want to hear from you’ well we’re right here,” said Aron Ali-McClory, protest organizer.

Ali-McClory was one of the many protestors putting out a list of demands to President Sasse.

They’re demanding several things including:

1. Market, equity raises for staff, graduate students, and all UF-affiliated workers in line with the model set by the University of Michigan

2. Sasse “publicly disavowing attacks from Tallahassee on academic and free speech”

3. Sasse “committing to non-compliance with targeted list-making activities” (i.e, attempts to enforce HB 7, which addresses how race related issues can be taught)

4. Maintaining all pre-existing commitments to DEI initiatives, including United HealthCare, and GatorGradCare. They ask he continue gender affirming care and and reproduce care, regardless of the Florida Board of Medicine’s standard of care

5. Committment to protecting tenure for UF faculty

This comes just a few weeks after Governor DeSantis’ office requested all state universities report information on the transgender medical services they’ve provided over the past five years, and a week after he blocked state colleges from funding programs relating to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

RELATED STORY: Desantis requests data from UF Health on transgender students

“In all other states people are getting worldly views but we’ll be limited to only the things he considers ‘traditional’ and ‘okay,’ but in reality we need so much more than just one singular perspective,” said Jordan Losardo, protestor.

She said she wants Sasse to know that she, and many other students, want a president who will fight back on these efforts.

“He, in the past, has been against the LGBTQ community, which as a member of the LGBTQ community is really gross to me,” said Losardo. “Considering he is a representative of the university I go to, I want to make sure he isn’t going to put any restraints on the people here.”

University officials did give three protestors the opportunity to walk into Sasse’s office and hand over the list of demands, but they turned down the offer, wanting to do it all together.

When an hour had passed, protestors began taping the lists up and down the hallway, and all over Sasse’s door.

Within 15 minutes of them leaving the building, TV 20 saw UF workers taking down the lists.

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