DeSantis touts state education ranking, flouts campus protests

by | May 8, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized recent campus protests, asserting that Florida will not tolerate attempts to commandeer university property.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking at the University of Florida (UF), lauded the state’s leading position in higher education while concurrently issuing a firm rebuke of recent campus protests.

DeSantis, against a backdrop of chanting students, condemned the efforts by students and non-university affiliated activists to establish protest encampments at Florida universities, stating that such actions would not be tolerated. In issuing the admonition, he praised university administrations and law enforcement for dismantling the attempted encampment.

DeSantis further asserted that individuals do not have the right to commandeer property or take over university areas in Florida and stressed that the state would uphold these principles and maintain order.

“These are public universities. These are things that exist due to the benevolence of the citizens of Florida; people who have been willing to allow their tax dollars to go to these things,” DeSantis said. “So if they’re not keeping order, then we’ll find new people who will keep order and it’s just that simple.”

DeSantis also contrasted Florida’s approach with that of other universities across the country, where he claimed encampments, graffiti, and anti-Semitic activities have been more prevalent. He cited incidents at Columbia University, UCLA, Portland State University, and others as examples of campuses being overrun by disruptive elements. He noted incidents in which pro-Hamas activists engaged in aggressive behavior against Jewish students and staff, including taking cleaning staff hostage and blocking access to buildings. He condemned chants and actions that he interpreted as calls for the destruction of Israel.

“I think a lot of these people that are just spouting nonsense; they don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said. “It’s very concerning [at] some of these elite institutions around the country, they’re just graduating a bunch of imbeciles.”

Beyond addressing protests, DeSantis celebrated Florida’s recognition as the top state for education by U.S. News and World Report on Tuesday, the second consecutive year that the state earned the recognition. The high ranking was largely attributed to high timely graduation rates and the lowest in-state tuition fees at public four-year institutions, alongside college readiness among high school seniors, preschool enrollment, and high school graduation rates.

Some of these colleges, they may be quality, but they are charging an arm and a leg,” said DeSantis. “People have to mortgage their future. You don’t have to do that here. And not only that, if you’re qualified as a Florida resident, chances are you’re qualified for bright futures. So you may not have to pay any tuition.”


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