President Sasser Releases Statement Concerning Richard Spencer Speech Published on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017

October 13, 2017 – Santa Fe College President Jackson N. Sasser released the following statement to students, faculty and staff concerning the upcoming speech by Richard Spencer on the University of Florida campus.

Dear Santa Fe Family,

At Santa Fe College, we have a record of welcoming, supporting and honoring students of different races, religions and nationalities.  We acknowledge that these differences enrich our college beyond measure. We will foster an environment where people of all backgrounds and perspectives feel free to express themselves, and to learn and grow.  There is no one who can influence negatively or change this fundamental Santa Fe practice and commitment.  Anyone who might attempt to do so strengthens our resolve to ensure equal opportunity and justice for students, employees, and members of our communities. No ideology, group or speaker will alter our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Freedom of expression is at the core of our college.  We will never forsake the principle that education, research and learning depend upon the unfettered flow of ideas. Free speech cannot be equivocated even when the message is intellectually bankrupt, against our common principles and disgustingly offensive.  Freedom of expression is the foundation of higher education and our democracy.

Our work is strengthened by opposing views. We thrive not when all are in agreement, but when challenged.  Our strength is in each other, in honesty, in the humanity of our relations, and in respect for civil discourse.  In this spirit, we support our community and the University of Florida.

Vice President Naima Brown and Student Development professionals have provided answers to anticipated questions regarding the October 19 event at UF, which are attached.  In addition, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe drafted a statement for UF President Kent Fuchs, Alachua County Commission Chair Ken Cornell, and me to jointly sign.  Lauren was generous in receiving our edits, and our final draft is attached.   Lastly, Kent sent information to UF students, employees and the community recently, which also is attached.

As we formulate our personal responses to this assault on our community values next Thursday, I join many in imploring us to consider first the safety of others and ourselves.

Jackson

Jackson N. Sasser, PhD

President

Santa Fe College

Gainesville, Florida