The people's voice of reason

Time to End the Nonsense

Amidst the troubling rise of anti-Semitic protests and near-riots sweeping across our nation’s college campuses including cancellation of graduation ceremonies by the University of Southern California because of fear of violence, the University of Florida (UF) has emerged not just as a bastion of higher learning but as a fortress of common sense and decency. The policies recently issued by UF in response to these disturbing events offer a blueprint that every university in America should adopt, a set of guidelines that I refer to as the “Gator Standard.” This isn’t just about maintaining order; it’s about preserving the very soul of our educational institutions.

First, let’s address the backbone of UF's policy: free speech is not only allowed but encouraged. Students and faculty are free to express their viewpoints and hold signs—activities central to the academic spirit of inquiry and debate. However, what sets UF apart—and what should be a model for every other university—is its unambiguous stance on what constitutes unacceptable behavior.

The prohibitions are clear: no amplified sound, no demonstrations inside buildings, no littering, no camping or sleeping on campus grounds, and importantly, no unmanned signs that could clutter spaces or become hazards. These rules go beyond maintaining aesthetics; they are about ensuring safety and respect for all campus community members.

Moreover, the policy’s firm stand against violence, threats, and weapons is a no-brainer. But the real strength of UF’s approach lies in its detailed list of banned activities, which also includes the prevention of any disruptions and the blocking of egress, ensuring that the daily operation of the university is not hindered by protests. Critically, UF’s policy includes serious consequences for non-compliance. For students, this means a three-year suspension and trespass from campus. For employees, it involves separation from employment. These aren’t just slaps on the wrist; they are clear, strong deterrents against violating the community’s standards.

Below are the Policies:

Allowable Activities

Speech

Expressing viewpoints Holding signs in hands

Prohibitive Items and Activities

no amplified sound

no demonstrations inside buildings

No littering

No camping

No sleeping

No unmanned signs

No blocking egress

No building structures (chairs, stakes, benches, tables

No camping, including tents, sleeping bags, pillows, etc.

No disruption

No threats

No violence

No weapons

Any other items and/or activities deemed to be non-compliant with policy and regulations by university officials

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Individuals found responsible for engaging in prohibited activities shall be trespassed from campus.

Students will receive a 3 year trespass and suspension.

Employees will be trespassed and separated from employment.

Now, some may argue that these measures are too harsh—that they stifle the very freedom they aim to protect. But this is not about stifling freedom; it’s about ensuring that freedom does not become a free-for-all. In the absence of clear rules and firm enforcement, chaos ensues, and no one’s rights are protected.

Every university in this country needs to take notice. It’s time to adopt a no-nonsense approach that clearly outlines what is acceptable and what is not. This isn’t just about maintaining order; it’s about sending a clear message that our universities are places of learning and growth, not battlegrounds for ideological warfare.

The Gator Standard is not about limiting thought or speech but about fostering an environment where all voices can be heard and respected within a framework that prioritizes safety and respect. It’s a balanced approach, a fair approach, and most importantly, it’s an approach that works.

As we face a tidal wave of unrest and division, let’s champion policies that promote not only free speech but also civil discourse. Let’s demand that our universities not only tolerate but also teach the importance of respectful disagreement. It’s time for more schools to follow the Gator Standard and show the world that when it comes to handling protest and expression, clarity, and courage are not optional—they are essential.

UF has set the bar. It’s high time other universities rise to meet it.

 

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