AP

Nebraska senator faces questions, protests at U of Florida

Oct 10, 2022, 2:25 AM | Updated: 2:31 pm

FILE - Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ket...

FILE - Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., listens during a confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Sasse is the sole finalist to become the president of the University of Florida, the school said Thursday, and the GOP senator has indicated that he will take the job. That means he could resign in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Nebraska U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse faced pointed questions and loud protests Monday during his first visit to the University of Florida as the lone finalist for the school’s presidency.

Sasse, a Republican in his second Senate term, has drawn criticism from some at the school in Gainesville, Florida, for his stance on same-sex marriage and other LBGTQ issues. Others question his qualifications to run such a sprawling school with more than 50,000 students.

The separate meetings Monday were with students, faculty and staff on campus. During those sessions, the Gainesville Sun reported about 1,000 people yelling “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ben Sasse has got to go” gathered and disrupted at least one of the meetings.

“Sasse does not really believe in equality on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Nathan Knorst, a senior at the university. “So, how can he adequately represent the student body and faculty and UF’s core values, which are diversity, equity and inclusion?”

Sasse, 50, was previously president of Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska, which has just over 1,600 students. He said during one meeting Monday when asked whether he opposes same-sex marriage that it is the national law as ruled upon by the U.S. Supreme Court and that his goal is to create a “place of respect and inclusion for all Gators,” mentioning the Southeastern Conference school’s sports mascot.

“I’ve had political positions and policy positions that represent the views of Nebraskans. It’s a completely different job to have the job of president of UF,” Sasse said, according to the Sun. “The president of UF’s job is to celebrate all of what’s going on in this community, and to be a storyteller and resource getter and salesman for it.”

Sasse also said he believes in human causes for climate change but has not always supported federal efforts to deal with it.

Organizations that put together Monday’s protest include UF College Democrats, Young Democratic Socialists and Graduate Assistants United, the newspaper reported.

Some students were concerned about the secretive selection process used in selecting Sasse. A new Florida law allows universities to conduct much of the process outside of the state’s open meetings and public records laws.

RJ Della Salle, a UF freshman, said the closed system ” makes me feel like my voice doesn’t matter.”

Sasse, who has also been a rare GOP critic of former President Donald Trump, said the students have every right to protest.

“Obviously I wish they didn’t have the position they have but I strongly support the right of people to protest and exercise their free speech rights,” he said.

Sasse, who would resign from the Senate to take the position, was recommended for the school’s presidency by a search committee. He still faces a vote by the school’s board of trustees and then must be confirmed by the state board of governors.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

14 hours ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

15 hours ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

2 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

3 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

5 days ago

Nebraska senator faces questions, protests at U of Florida