Florida's Solution to the University Problem
Ben Sasse - the clear headed leader
I have been, am, and will continue to be a fan of former Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse. I’m a 80/20 guy … and he hits 90/10.
After he left the Senate, he was selected to be the new President of the University of Florida in Gainesville.
As we have seen absolutely nightmarish silence and even pro-Hamas statements coming out of university students, leadership and administrators all over the nation, over the last week one exception is breaking out from the background noise - Ben Sasse.
This should be normal, not exceptional … but because it is exceptional, I want to quote it in full.
Sasse's full letter is posted below:
Dear Jewish Gator Alums,
Many of you have reached out about the vigil at UF last night. I was overwhelmed to see a thousand Gators standing with Israel. You can find my remarks here.
The chaos at the event was an unfortunate end to a beautiful gathering, but I wanted to let you know that there was no attack on campus and the injuries that have been reported seem to be relatively minor. From what we can gather, a student passed out and, when a fellow student called for 911, other students – understandably on edge – fled.
While we all wish the night had ended differently, we are tremendously proud of the students who came to stand with Israel. I hope Rabbi Jonah and Rabbi Berl reschedule the vigil, and I hope the community reconvenes.
Like you, I am tremendously grateful for our students. The University of Florida is home to the largest number of Jewish students at any university in this country. We are honored by and committed to that legacy. Our Jewish students and alumni around the world have been devastated by Hamas’ terrorism.
I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard. Sadly, too many people in elite academia have been so weakened by their moral confusion that, when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to “provide context” and try to blame the raped women, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother. In other grotesque cases, they express simple support for the terrorists.
This thinking isn’t just wrong, it’s sickening. It’s dehumanizing. It is beneath people called to educate our next generation of Americans. I am thankful to say I haven’t seen examples of that here at UF, either from our faculty or our student body.
As for us, our educational mission here begins with the recognition and explicit acknowledgment of human dignity – the same human dignity that Hamas’ terrorists openly scorn. Every single human life matters. We are committed to that truth. We will tell that truth.
In the coming days, it is possible that anti-Israel protests will come to UF’s campus. I have told our police chief and administration that this university always has two foundational commitments: We will protect our students and we will protect speech. This is always true: Our Constitution protects the rights of people to make abject idiots of themselves.
But I also want to be clear about this: We will protect our Jewish students from violence. If anti-Israel protests come, we will absolutely be ready to act if anyone dares to escalate beyond peaceful protest. Speech is protected – violence and vandalism are not.
I’m grateful to have heard from so many of you. Like I said at the vigil last night: When evil raises its head, as it has in recent days, it is up to men and women of conscience and courage to draw strength from truth and commit ourselves to the work of building something better – to the work of pursuing justice and pursuing peace. That is what we aim to do through education, compassion, and truth here at the University of Florida.
The University of Florida has an undergraduate population of 34,552. As mentioned above, also has the most Jewish students of any campus in the country at about 6,500 students, or 19%. Of note, that is about the same, if not less than that of my high school. For much of us in Florida, this is quite normal. The USA is only ~2-2.5% Jewish. Florida is 8% overall, my part of Florida much higher - the circles I grew up with, even higher. If you wonder why I’ve been writing like I have the last week+, that may explain it a bit.
Anyway, back to topic.
In addition to reading his letter above, take time to listen to his interview below.
I make comments about the abject moral cowardice of university administrators throughout the USA, but Ben Sasse is a rare jewel and should be considered the benchmark of superior leadership in academia, proving his sniveling critics wrong. Our nation and our civilization would be in a much better place if we have more like Sasse, and less like the cowards in the “Ivy League” schools.
Another great appointment by Governor DeSantis.