Oct 25, 2023 - News

Gov. Ron DeSantis moves to shut down Florida university pro-Palestine groups

Illustration of Israeli and Palestinian flags stylized as college pennants on a wall.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered Florida university officials to shut down their pro-Palestinian student groups.

Driving the news: State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues said Tuesday in a letter to university presidents that their chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) "must be deactivated."

  • Only the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Florida in Gainesville have active chapters registered with the schools but the organization appears to have a presence at other universities, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Details: Rodrigues' letter pointed to a "toolkit" released by the group's national chapter that said early October's Hamas attacks on Israel were part of "the resistance" and says: "Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement."

  • Rodrigues did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

The other side: The University of Florida SJP chapter told Axios in a statement that it found the "recent attempt by the DeSantis administration to shut down our chapter disgraceful."

  • "If followed through, a precedent would be set to shut down any organization that does not align with the ideals held by Governor DeSantis," the group added.
  • Several more organizations spoke out against the move as an attack on free speech, according to the Times.

The big picture: The Israel-Hamas war has stoked controversy on college campuses, in some cases even resulting in revoked job offers for students connected to pro-Palestinian actions on campus.


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