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Florida colleges told not to cancel graduation amidst Palestine protests

A student holds a diploma.
A student holds a diploma.

The State University System of Florida has sent a memo to Florida’s public universities urging them to ensure graduation ceremonies aren’t canceled or disrupted.

The action comes as pro-Palestine encampments and rallies continue on college campuses throughout the country.

The memo was sent to all 12 of Florida’s public universities and colleges including the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

In it, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida Ray Rodrigues said that schools should not cancel or modify commencement ceremonies due to protesters.

“While we respect and honor the First Amendment, a commencement ceremony is not the time nor place to hold a political protest,” Rodrigues wrote in the memo.

The letter authorizes schools to take any steps necessary to ensure the safety of attendees at these ceremonies.

Schools are required to inform students, staff and guests that protests, discrimination or harassment of any kind won’t be tolerated.

Florida law requires educational institutions to ensure programming is free from discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin.

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said students who harass Jewish students during rallies for Gaza would be expelled, or deported.

This week, he advocated for Jewish students on campuses throughout the country, to transfer to Florida schools, if they’re experiencing antisemitism due to protests and encampments.

So far, only 12 Florida students have been arrested in connection with these protests.

Read the memo here:

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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