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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

UF President Bernie Machen decided Monday to reschedule the Oct. 11 appearance of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

The delay was largely due to concerns stemming from the Sept. 17 Tasering of UF telecommunication senior Andrew Meyer by University Police during a speech by Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat who represents Massachusetts and a former presidential candidate.

Kevorkian will instead appear Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. in the O'Connell Center.

At a September meeting of the Student Senate, the Pro-Life Alliance came to protest Kevorkian's speech.

In an e-mail to UF students, faculty and staff, Machen said he met with representatives from UPD, Student Government, Student Affairs and Accent - SG's speakers bureau - and decided more time is needed to assess UF's security and event management policies.

"While we all would like to see these matters resolved sooner rather than later, I believe we should allow adequate time to make any policy or protocol changes needed to ensure a safe and civil environment for full, free, diverse and lively discourse," Machen wrote in his e-mail.

Janine Sikes, UF spokeswoman, said the administration didn't feel comfortable holding the event because it has yet to hear the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's independent review of UPD's actions.

Another reason for pushing the speech back is that UF has not announced the members of the nine-member task force that will recommend revisions to UF's security and event management policies.

Sikes said UF would announce the members of this task force later this week.

She said the administration talked with Kevorkian and his attorney to come to a mutual agreement. UF will pay him a ,7,500 "inconvenience fee" with private money from the UF Foundation, UF's fundraising branch.

The administration has not considered delaying any other speakers or events, she added.

Steven Blank, Accent chairman, said the decision was out of his hands, but he agreed with Machen's assessment.

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"While we're disappointed with the university's decision to reschedule the event, we ultimately have the same goals," Blank said. "We want to provide a safe environment for the free exchange of ideas."

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