Florida Prioritizes Order And Student Safety On College Campuses

Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.

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Even elite universities need to be taught lessons. Even in freedom-loving Florida.

The latest example is a lesson plan decreed by Gov. Ron DeSantis for Florida colleges. DeSantis mandated orderly conduct on statewide campuses, as anti-Israel/pro-Palestine protests raged across the country. The scenes resembled the volatile 1960s.

And local students performed admirably, with a few exceptions. Meanwhile, prestigious colleges in other states unraveled like Christmas gifts. Breaking out like infestations, protests and riots disrupted classes, graduation ceremonies and other campus activities.

DeSantis has been proactive in maintaining peace and civility on Florida college campuses. DeSantis even called in the Florida Highway Patrol to maintain order.

Tents and encampments were disbanded, and protests were controlled. And Jewish students went unharmed.

“In Florida, we prioritize order and student safety on campus,” DeSantis said. “While other states allowed their college campuses to be vandalized and taken over by antisemitic agitators, Florida held the line.”

It was a hard line. And protesters who crossed the line were arrested. More than 30 agitators were quickly apprehended in demonstrations on Florida campuses. At the University of South Florida, tear gas was reportedly used.

Graduation ceremonies proceeded on schedule, with few disruptions. Lawlessness has no place in Florida. Only law-and-order does.

“There is a stark difference between Florida and many other states in this nation,” said Dave Kerner, the head of the Florida Department of Highway Safety. “Our governor will not tolerate for a moment our campuses degenerating into collectives of violence and anti-American and antisemitic dogma.”

Other state officials sang a unified chorus. This included the chancellor of state universities, Ray Rodrigues.

“In Florida, there will be no negotiations,” Rodrigues said. “There will be no appeasement, there will be no amnesty and there will be no divestment.”

Even from the federal level, local Congressman Aaron Bean spoke out against the campus mayhem. Bean believes antisemitism starts before college. He held a subcommittee hearing on the troubling spread of antisemitism in K-12 schools.

Bean appeared on Newsmax to discuss his hearing with public school officials from New York City, Maryland and California.

“These school districts did something Harvard could not do, and they condemned antisemitism,” Bean said. “We have to acknowledge it and then we have to root it out.

“It is evil,” Bean continued. “We know what happens – they end up burning down our college campuses.”

Bean believes teachers, students and faculty are afraid on some campuses. And “it’s a true shame,” he said.

“They can’t get any cooperation or get the administration to even look at it,” Bean said. “We’re seeing where the roots come from. We can’t tolerate even the smallest acts of antisemitism.”

Bean proposed using financial leverage to hit universities like Columbia “in the pocketbook.” Columbia has been at the heart of the protests. Along with public awareness, this will hopefully spur change.

DeSantis feels the presidents at elite universities are often “just too weak” to act. But more importantly, students who violate rules and laws suffer no consequences.

“When there are no consequences, you’ll continue to see that conduct,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, there will be consequences. We are not running daycare centers at our universities.”


Steve Nicklas is the managing partner of Nicklas Wealth Management in Fernandina Beach. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also appear in weekly newspapers in Northeast Florida and in Southeast Georgia, and on his website atwww.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He has also done financial reports for area radio stations and for National Public Radio in Jacksonville. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 904-753-0236.