University President On Defense After GOP Leader’s Attack

Some on American college campuses feel their colleges aren’t doing enough to combat antisemitism, while others would want to see more action taken to alleviate the plight of the Gazans caught in the crossfire of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Florida state legislator Randy Fine’s statement accusing a UF professor of antisemitism on X has drawn criticism from University of Florida (UF) President Ben Sasse.

To Fine, UF professor Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons was lecturing on how Israel’s destruction of Hamas is analogous to Germany’s extermination of Jews in Florida. Sasse clarified that the person who allegedly authored the “antisemitic nonsense” was not a tenured professor nor employed at UF anymore.

While both Sasse and Fine have been vocal in their support for Israel, an argument arose over Fine’s now-deleted article claiming Simmons was still employed at UF.

According to Fine, Sasse needs to devote “less time bloviating and more time working” and should take responsibility for failing to safeguard Jewish students on campus. It became clear from the debate how college campuses throughout the nation have become battlegrounds for the Israel-Hamas conflict, with colleges being asked to address the issue.

Sasse called Fine’s social media assault on UF a “thirsty, attention-desperate post.” This came after Sasse had received accolades from many Republicans for standing up for Israel in the face of criticism from pro-Palestinian students after the Hamas attacks.

Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has directed university administrators in the Sunshine State to disband Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters on campus due to the organizations’ alleged backing of Hamas’ assault on Israel on October 7.

Concerns about potential legal action stemming from a group at UF, which sued the state and school in federal court last week over the policy’s implementation, have prevented the state from taking action against chapters at UF.

When criticizing UF, Fine mentions that other schools, including George Washington University, Columbia University, and Brandeis University, have banned or suspended SJP chapters.