University of Florida students protest, say Republican Senator Ben Sasse poses a ‘threat’ as president

University students organized a protest in response to their university’s nomination of a single finalist for school president. The University of Florida announced Oct. 6 that Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., was unanimously nominated to be the sole candidate to serve as the public institution’s 13th president.

Sasse, who has served the state of Nebraska since 2015, is expected to step down from his Senate seat in December and start his new job at the university in February if the nomination goes through.

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He was on campus Oct. 10 for several public forums with students, faculty and staff. Sasse spoke at Emerson Alumni Hall at 14.30 during a Q&A session for students. The students had the opportunity to ask questions before the event.

Several student organizations gathered outside the building to protest the nomination, including the UF Young Democratic Socialists of America, UF Graduate Assistants United, UF Communists and UF College Democrats.

Students expressed their concerns to Fox News Digital.

Students from the University of Florida protested the appointment of a Republican senator to become their school's new president.

Students from the University of Florida protested the appointment of a Republican senator to become their school’s new president.
(Fox News/Ophelie Jacobson)

“Ben Sasse is anti-gay marriage, anti-transgender and anti-abortion. He poses a threat to all students who may be queer or non-male,” one student said. “I am concerned that it may become even more difficult for students to obtain an abortion.”

Another student said that “his views are very right wing, really far right,” adding that he is “not a high profile individual.”

“I think he lacks the experience to lead a university as large and prestigious as the University of Florida,” said one student.

Other students said his positions on climate change and the overturning of Roe v. Wade worried them, as well as his ability to “unify” the college population.

The protest started outside, but students gradually entered the building and stood outside the room where Sasse spoke. Their chants of “Ben Sasse has to go” could be heard from inside the room.

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Students said their school spirit would drop if Sasse became president of the university.

One student told Fox News Digital, “If this goes through, I won’t be proud to be a Gator. And I’m worried that this could affect our rankings.”

Another student said she has been “embarrassed to be a Florida Gator” because “it’s been clear for a while now that Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature want to destroy public education.”

After Sasse finished speaking and left the room, students swarmed the empty room and rose to the stage and continued their chants. The organizers of the event said they wanted to “make his life miserable.” At one point, a student called him a “homophobic piece of shit.”

Students thronged the room where Sasse spoke after he left the area, jumping on stage and continuing their chants.

Students thronged the room where Sasse spoke after he left the area, jumping on stage and continuing their chants.
(Fox News/Ophelie Jacobson)

Students argued that campus dynamics would change if Sasse were to become president.

“I care a lot about the most marginalized on campus and whether they will feel that UF is still a safe place for them.”

Another student echoed the same concerns.

“I feel like a lot of marginalized groups on campus are going to feel less safe and less safe,” she said.

However, one student admitted he was “capable of being won over” and said he was at the event “to see what he has to say.”

Several student groups organized the protest outside the building, where Sasse participated in a Q&A session with students.

Several student groups organized the protest outside the building, where Sasse participated in a Q&A session with students.
(Fox News/Ophelie Jacobson)

Shortly after the event, UF Graduate Assistants United tweeted a video of what appears to be Sasse exiting the building via a police car.

That organization tweeted“This is what a coward looks like. This will be your life every day if you accept a position here.”

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Sasse voted to impeach former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial in 2021. Before serving in the Senate, Sasse spent five years as president of Midland University and taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

According to a statement released by the University of Florida, “the committee’s recommendation will now go to the University of Florida Board of Trustees for consideration at a meeting scheduled for November 1, 2022.”

Fox News reached out to Sasse’s office for comment, but has not yet heard back.

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