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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Students plan fundraiser to counter conservative event

While a conservative UF student organization fundraised using pies on one end of Turlington Plaza, about four students stood on the other end and protested by selling hot chocolate to raise money for Planned Parenthood.

Both fundraisers took place on Tuesday afternoon. Young Americans for Freedom organized the “Pie a Conservative” event to pay for a male speaker’s visit to campus next Spring, said Victor Santos, the group’s secretary, declining to name the speaker until his visit is confirmed. They charged $2 to pie anyone and $5 to pie their club’s president, Daniel Weldon. The club raised $20 for the speaker, Weldon said.

According to Alligator archives, the conservative group fundraised to bring former U.S. Treasurer Angela “Bay” Buchanan in November and Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator, in Spring.

As soon as she saw the conservative event promoted on Facebook on Thursday, Sophia Ahmed said she knew she had to protest it. She and Jessica Terkovich, a 20-year-old criminology sophomore, recruited a few friends, and they charged $1 per hot chocolate. Their group raised $95 for Planned Parenthood, Ahmed said.

Ahmed, a UF materials science and engineering sophomore, said she is against Young Americans for Freedom because some of the viewpoints she feels they promote — particularly their anti-abortion and anti-transgender views — go against her personal beliefs.

“(Young Americans for Freedom) is messy and problematic,” the 19-year-old said. “I don’t want them to have more money to promote their stances.”

Ahmed said she wanted to provide an alternative way for people to donate their money and picked Planned Parenthood because she thinks it’s a great cause.

Santos, a UF economics junior, said although his organization is against abortion and doesn’t support Planned Parenthood, the members believe in the free marketplace of ideas and didn’t do anything against the opposing fundraiser.

“It’s a free market,” the 21-year-old said. “People decide what they want to do with their personal money.”

Organizers of the opposing fundraiser put up a sign that read, “Your body your choice.” At one point during the events, a sign was posted above the counterfundraiser that read, “unless you’re a fetus.”

Santos confirmed the second sign was put up by a Young Americans for Freedom member, but declined to name him. He said the person acted alone and his action does not represent the group.

Ahmed said she saw the person post the sign on the second floor of Turlington Plaza, crawling to the edge of the balcony. She also saw Santos’ videotaping it, she said.

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“Despite what they say, he was associated with their organization at that instance because the public saw him walk to their table after,” Ahmed said.

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