New College of Florida (NCF) students raised more than $90,000 to hold an alternative commencement ceremony to oppose the “hostile takeover” prompted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ appointment of conservative trustees earlier this year, according to its GoFundMe page.
The alternative commencement, titled “[NEW] Commencement: On Our Terms,” is scheduled to be held on May 18 at an alternative venue to recognize graduates on the students’ “own terms, separate from the official commencement ceremony,” its GoFundMe description reads. DeSantis appointed six new members to the Board of Trustees, which led to backlash from students who disagree with the conservative members.
“The new administration that has spent the past four months attacking our students and community cannot, in good faith, celebrate our graduating students and their accomplishments,” the description reads. “Commencement is supposed to be a celebration of graduating students and the people who have shaped this school to be what it is. And we’re proud of who we are! So, we’re taking the celebration plans into our own hands. We want this event to be a fulfilling and memorable experience for graduating students that keeps the focus on STUDENTS, rather than an administration desperately trying to maintain normality and instill conformity.”
The official NCF ceremony is scheduled for May 19 and will feature Scott Atlas, special advisor to the president and White House Coronavirus Task Force member in the Trump administration, as the commencement speaker, according to the college’s website. The alternative ceremony may include traditions including reading graduates’ names and walking the stage, but will also include “bonding activities” such as live bands, food and speakers, the GoFundMe reads.
The student-planned event received $15,000 from the Save New College GoFundMe ad hoc committee, which is a coalition opposing the “hostile political takeover” of New College, according to the GoFundMe. It also received support from Novo Collegian Alliance, which “was formed to build off the amazing advocacy rallying around the Save New College movement, and to fill the need for a legally incorporated organization to sustain the fight over the long-term,” its website reads.
Any unused funds will be put towards the Novo Collegian Alliance’s student event fund which will be allocated by the NCF student government, according to the GoFundMe.
The newly appointed trustees made several changes to the college during the spring semester, including terminatingformer college president Patricia Okker in favor of former education commissioner Richard Corcoran. The board also voted in February to eliminate a college office dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and to prohibit the use of diversity statements.
The Florida Senate rejected DeSantis appointee Eddie Speir in early May, according to his Twitter.
NCF, Save New College and Novo Collegian Alliance did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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