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UF made wrong decision with Sasse
January 10, 2023
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse was chosen as the only finalist for the position of president at the University of Florida at the beginning of November.
The choice of Sasse as UF’s new president is a disgrace to higher education everywhere.
After the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on the legalization of same-sex marriage, Sasse was one of the most vocal opponents to the rights of same-sex couples. Sasse released a statement – that is still on his website – explaining that the ruling was “a disappointment to Nebraskans who understand that marriage brings a wife and husband together so their children can have a mom and dad.”
This is problematic for a myriad of reasons, starting with the fact that the undergraduate population at all universities is more LGBTQ+ identifying than ever before. The Postsecondary National Policy Institute reported in a 2018 survey of 180,000 undergrad and graduate students that 17% of college students identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, while a 2020 American
College Health Association survey of nearly 8,000 students reported that 21% of undergraduates identify as LGBTQ+.
The president’s role at a university is to listen to and be representative of the student body. In this circumstance — where one in five UF students could be LGBTQ+ identifying — Sasse will not be able to carry out his duties as president. But this isn’t solely my belief. The Faculty Senate of UF approved a vote of no-confidence for Sasse on Oct. 27. Senators approved the resolution
on a 72-16 vote, an overwhelming majority believing that the University and Sasse “’undermined the trust and confidence’ of the Faculty Senate,” according to the Gainesville Sun.
The staff resolution also stated that they believe Sasse is not fully equipped for the job at hand.
UF is the seventh-largest university in the United States, meaning that the president’s job requires previous experience and immediate knowledge. The resolution stated that the president “should come already equipped to lead an institution of this caliber rather than aiming to learn on the job. Anything less will result in a lack of faith in leadership.” Sasse’s previous experience
comes from Midland University, a small Lutheran school in Fremont, NE. While we cannot discredit Sasse’s work at Midland, running a university of 1,500 students is very different than running a university of over 50,000, and it is reasonable to see why the staff has lost confidence.
Sasse, a staunch conservative, is not only a vocal opponent of the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, but minimizes the threat that climate change poses to future generations. The League of Conservation Voters, a climate change policy group, gives Sasse a 6% lifetime score on climate policy. Sasse voted against the removal of the Keystone XL pipeline and cautioned Americans
against climate “alarmists,” stating that “things like the Paris climate accords tend to be more binding on us than on other nations. So that’s not good for the U.S. consumer and it’s not a long term solution.” Sasse’s biggest supporting group when running for his senate seat was “Club for Growth,” a known anti-environmentalism organization that opposes climate legislature. Sasse
was endorsed by Donald Trump during his reelection campaign, a well-known climate change denier.
This exact sentiment from Sasse is what higher education must separate itself from. American universities are at the forefront of climate change research, action, legislation and education. His selection as the next president of UF will negate higher education’s progress and push it back into a world that it has worked so hard to leave.
Sasse is not and was never the right choice for the University of Florida. Not often does a choice of university president gather as much opposition as Sasse has, and the opposition to Sasse is rightful. He won’t represent the interests of the student body, the interests of the next generation.