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College Presidents urged to be vigilant ahead of commencement

In a memo sent to 12 university Presidents, state leaders are urging schools to protect graduation ceremonies.
Posted at 4:58 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 16:58:51-04

With graduations ceremonies set to take place for several Florida Universities this upcoming weekend, state leaders are urging college Presidents to be vigilant.

In a memo sent to the 12 presidents of the State University System of Florida, including FGCU, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues advised the institutions to ensure commencements aren’t canceled or disrupted by activists protesting the Israel-Gaza conflict.

“Commencement ceremonies are a time to recognize our graduates for the honors they have earned; they are not a platform for disruptive political activism of any stripe, especially activism for genocidal terrorists,” Rodrigues said.

University Memo
Chancellor Ray Rodrigues sent a memo to the 12 presidents of the State University System of Florida.

This week, the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa turned chaotic, as police used tear gas to break up a pro-Palestinian protest.

10 people were arrested.

“We are trying to continue history and stand on the side of justice,” said one of the protesters.

At least 2,000 people arrested at pro-Palestinian protests on US campuses

Hundreds of people have been arrested nationwide on college campuses in recent days.

Encampments and pro-Palestinian demonstrations are taking place on campuses across the country.

Florida Senator Rick Scott believes there should be harsher penalties for universities that allow these protests.

He’s introduced legislation that would strip schools of federal funding.

“Why should a university that spews hatred and antisemitism get any of our federal dollars?” Scott said at a press conference this week.

The anti-defamation league, which tracks hate incidents, reported more antisemitic incidents in the U.S. in 2023 than any year since they began tracking.

Sarah Emmons, the Florida Regional Director for the ADL, says antisemitism has exploded on colleges campuses since Hamas attack on Israel in October.

“These are calls for the elimination of the state of Israel. This is saying that the state of Israel has no right to exist and that the Jewish people that live there have no right to exist and should be eliminated,” said Emmons.