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Friday, June 14, 2024
NEWS  |  CAMPUS

Pro-Palestinian student group sues UF, DeSantis administration over shutdown order

The order violates the First Amendment, lawsuit claims

<p>Majd Afaghani, attends UF SJP’s discussion in Turlington wearing a Palestine kufiyyeh neck scarf on Thursday Oct. 12, 2023.</p>

Majd Afaghani, attends UF SJP’s discussion in Turlington wearing a Palestine kufiyyeh neck scarf on Thursday Oct. 12, 2023.

A pro-Palestinian student group sued UF and state officials Thursday to block the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration’s order to shut the group down.

State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues issued a memo Oct. 24 demanding state university presidents deactivate campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, claiming they supported "Hamas terrorism." 

The order, which has not been carried out, “casts a significant chill on UF SJP’s activities, causing its Board and members to think twice before organizing and advocating for Palestine,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names its defendants as DeSantis; UF President Ben Sasse; and members of the UF Board of Trustees and Florida Board of Governors. 

UF SJP filed the lawsuit with support from the American Civil Liberties Union and another civil rights group Palestine Legal. The lawsuit seeks to block the order and declare it as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. 

“As students on a public college campus, we have every right to engage in human rights advocacy and promote public awareness and activism for a just and reasonable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict” wrote the University of Florida’s Students for Justice in Palestine in a press release Thursday. “We know we have First Amendment rights in school and we’re bringing this lawsuit to make sure the government doesn’t silence us or others like us.”

UF Spokesperson Steve Orlando confirmed in an email Friday morning that the university hadn't deactivated any student organizations.

"The University of Florida has been clear and upfront about our two foundational and legal commitments: We will protect our students and we will protect speech," Orlando wrote. "Any student groups that break the law will be decertified. All UF student organizations that were in place before the Board of Governors’ memo are still in place now."

This is a developing story. Check back to The Alligator for updates.

Contact Garrett at gshanley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.

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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a fourth-year journalism major and the Summer 2024 university editor for The Alligator. Outside of the newsroom, you can find him watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and talking to his house plants.


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