As the 13th president of the University of Florida, former United States Senator Ben Sasse isn’t your typical college administrator – and that’s the whole reason he took the job and why the school was so eager to hire him.

The Issue

  • Responding to the recent surge in lawless and disruptive anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests sweeping across campuses, Sasse made clear in last week’s Wall Street Journal that under his watch, the University of Florida won’t play along.

 President Sasse’s Response

  • “Parents are rightly furious at the asinine entitlement of these activists and the embarrassing timidity of many college administrators … We’re not perfect, but the adults are still in charge. Our response to threats to build encampments is driven by three basic truths.”

Sasse Identifies 3 Basic Truths

  1. “Universities must distinguish between speech and action … The heckler gets no veto. The best arguments deserve the best counterarguments … We draw a hard line at unlawful action. Speech isn’t violence. Silence isn’t violence. Violence is violence.
  2. “Universities must say what they mean and then do what they say … Appeasing mobs emboldens agitators elsewhere. Moving classes online is a retreat that penalizes students and rewards protesters.

    Sasse makes clear that actions have consequences, and that those who break the law will be tossed from campus and suspended for three years.

  3. “Universities need to recommit themselves to real education … Life-changing education explores alternatives, teaches the messiness of history, and questions every truth claim.

Why This Matters

Dr. Billy Graham famously said, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Other college presidents are watching. Some are capitulating. But others, seeing the example of Sasse’s courage and principled leadership, are more likely to emulate his behavior.

Looking Back

Nebraska Senator Sasse resigned his seat back in January of 2023. Although he had just under four years remaining in his term, the former president of Midland University in Nebraska had grown weary of Washington dysfunction.

As he prepared to leave the Beltway for Gainesville, Sasse was practical: “Washington partisanship isn’t going to solve these work force challenges — new institutions and entrepreneurial communities are going to have to spearhead this work.”

Looking Ahead

Campus protests are expected to die down as the spring semester ends and student agitators head home, though not before countless graduations will likely be interrupted in the coming weeks – if they’re held at all.

Ben Sasse is modeling principled leadership in the face of increasing animosity. He and other school administrators need and would benefit from our prayers.

Scriptures to Ponder

  • “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” – Romans 13:1
  • “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme …” – 1 Peter 2:13′


Image from Getty.