October 27, 2023
Florida’s governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has ordered state universities to deactivate campus groups with ties to the national Students for Justice in Palestine organization, Politico reports.
DeSantis allegedly sent a memo out to the university system chancellor on Oct. 24, issuing a “crackdown” on campus events led by the pro-Palestinian organization that the DeSantis administration describes as “harmful support for terrorist groups” similar to Hamas.
“Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated,” Ray Rodrigues, state university system Chancellor, wrote. DeSantis has publicly supported Israel, which was attacked in early October 2023 during the ongoing war and has been keeping a close eye on pro-Palestine college protests since.
According to Rodrigues, at least two Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at unidentified Florida universities are facing cancellation; however, both the University of Florida and The University of South Florida appear to have active chapters.
Florida cites a toolkit published by the national organization as an impetus to target the groups. The system chancellor got a hold of part of the kit that labeled the attack, known as “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” as “the resistance” and claimed that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement and not in solidarity with the movement.” After linking the document to Florida branches, the state claims the groups are violating state law, making it a felony to “knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”
The new push comes after fellow Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy criticized the governor’s decision to disband the student chapters, claiming it was an attempt to silence their freedom of speech, which wouldn’t solve any problems, according to The Hill. “My view is that the answer to bad speech is not less speech, it is more speech. And I think it is wrong for us to silence those we disagree with,” Ramaswamy said.
“I don’t think that’s the American way. I don’t think that’s productive, and I don’t think we convince any of those people by browbeating them into submission through fear either.”
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