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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Here’s what to expect from Ben Sasse’s Nov. 1 UF visit with Board of Trustees

The board’s expected to vote on Sasse’s nomination

As Sen. Ben Sasse prepares for his return to UF campus, a coalition of UF organizations is also preparing to communicate directly with him for the first time.

The coalition is calling their plan of action “Spook Sasse Out of Our Swamp.” One part of the plan includes attending President Lauren Lemasters’ office hours on Oct. 27 at 8 a.m. The second part of the plan is a protest during the final interview between the Board of Trustees and Sasse from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. outside of Emerson Alumni Hall.

Since UF has enforced a ban on protests inside Emerson Hall, the protest will be peaceful but respecting the guidelines of the university, UF Young Democratic Socialists Association President Aron Ali-McClory wrote in a text message. 

Sasse is slated to return to campus Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. in Emerson Alumni Hall for an interview with the Board of Trustees. 

Unlike the last time Sasse was at Emerson Hall Oct. 10, the meeting will be open for public comment and livestreamed for those unable to attend, UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan wrote in an email.  

The board is expected to vote on Sasse’s nomination at the Nov. 1 meeting, Roldan wrote. If Sasse is selected, he’ll move on to the Florida Board of Governors to be confirmed as president-elect.

Roldan didn’t answer questions about whether there’ll be heightened security, in accordance with state statute 1004.055.

Organizations including UF Young Democratic Socialists of America, UF College Democrats and Graduate Assistants United will be present at the meeting to deliver public comment. 

These groups and Sasse will return to Emerson Hall for the first time since Sasse’s initial introduction to UF and the 300-person protest that followed.

An agenda detailing additional information about the meeting will be published on the UF Board of Trustees website. The coalition decided on a course of action together Sunday afternoon, Ali-McClory said. 

Members of the coalition will be attending Student Body President Lauren Lemasters’ office hours Oct. 27 at 8 a.m. to present a list of five demands the coalition decided on the weekend before the Oct. 10 protests at Emerson Hall, Ali-McClory said.

The office hours visit won’t be a protest but rather a time for the coalition to speak to Lemasters about their issues and thoughts as constituents, Ali-McCrory said. 

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The coalition’s demands include asking for Sasse to decline his position on the terms of an “unjust nomination process” and for the presidential search process to be transparent. 

The group wants opportunities for students, faculty and staff to provide considered input and for the Board of Trustees to release the names of all 12 presidential search finalists. 

The coalition also called for the Florida Legislature to repeal Senate Bill 520, a bill passed in March which exempts public records requests from identifying personal information of a public university presidential applicant.

The coalition’s plan of action is inspired by the UF Student Government’s resolution, which passed Oct. 18, condemning Lemasters for her role in the unanimous decision within the UF presidential search committee, Ali-McClory said.

The idea is to ensure Lemasters is on the side of the student body, Ali-McClory said.

“We're going to definitely pursue those more non-disruptive avenues of asking Sasse about his intentions,” Ali-McClory said. 

UF College Democrats is trying to get as many students as possible to show up to the meeting to demonstrate students don’t want Sasse to be the next president, Lily Kalandjian said, the group’s public relations director. The goal is to convince the Board of Trustees to not vote in his favor. 

“I know we're going to continue to just make Ben Sasse feel that he is not welcome on this campus and that he's making this an unsafe space for a lot of students,” Kalandjian said. 

Contact Anushka at adakshit@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @anushkadak.

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Anushka Dakshit

Anushka Dakshit is a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies major and the general reporter on the University desk of The Alligator. She started out as an arts and culture reporter at The Avenue and hopes to pursue arts and culture reporting and print magazine journalism in her career. Along with The Alligator, she is one of the Print Editorial Directors of Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, she likes to listen to old Bollywood music, read and obsess over other writers’ processes whenever she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often). 


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