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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A bell rang out over Liberty Pond.

As the note died away Thursday, the voices of a crowd of 50 or so Santa Fe College students, faculty and staff fell silent. The silence, broken only by the hum of buses and camera shutters, lasted for two minutes in memory of those killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, last week.

After two minutes, the bell rang again. Heads rose, and some looked to Santa Fe President Jackson Sasser.

He shook his head, saying nothing, and walked away. The crowd did the same.

Shortly after, Sasser fought back tears, choking up as he told reporters why he decided to hold the ceremony.

"Santa Fe College is about standing, certainly, with the families of these students, the students at Umpqua, the faculty and the staff," Sasser said. "There’s really nothing that we can do other than just stand with them in spirit during this time."

Santa Fe also sent a 6-foot indigenous tree to the college as a symbol of Santa Fe’s commitment to Umpqua and its journey of healing, Sasser said.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Santa Fe Sen. Benjamin Myers proposed a resolution during Wednesday’s Senate meeting which called for Santa Fe to support bills in the state legislature that would allow concealed carry on Florida college campuses.

Myers said he plans to talk with Sasser and Santa Fe’s police chief about concealed carry, both of whom oppose such legislation.

"I am opposed to guns on campus with all the college and university presidents in the state of Florida," Sasser said. "That remains my position regarding guns on campus."

Joel Miller, who said he decided to attend the ceremony to show his support of Umpqua Community College, also opposes concealed carry on campus.

Instead, the 29-year-old network administration sophomore suggested a "special certificate" for those who want to carry a weapon on campus.

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"Not everybody needs a gun," he said.

Contact Hunter Williamson at hwilliamson@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @hunterewilliam

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