FSU students join statewide walk-out

Florida State student Trinity White protests for educational rights Thursday. Photo courtesy Pam Rentz

In response to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ initiatives to restrict and eliminate diverse, equitable and inclusive curriculums in Florida’s public schools, thousands of college students walked out of their classes Thursday.

Stand for Freedom is a collaborative movement orchestrated by the Dream Defenders and the Florida College Democrats to combat DeSantis’ “attacks on LGBTQ+ and BIPOC students, faculty and staff.”

The movement thus far has consisted of rallies, walk outs and protests at nine participating Florida universities including: Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida International University, University of South Florida, University of North Florida, Florida Polytechnic University, New College of Florida and Rollins College.

From noon to 1 p.m. Thursday college students, educators and members of the two activist groups gathered at Wescott Fountain on Florida State’s campus in all-black attire. The crowd grew to roughly 350 people. The Dream Defenders had an information table set up with water bottles and representatives interacting with protesters.

Florida State graduate student Savoya Joyner believes this fight is not just for the students. She said it’s everybody’s duty to speak up.

“If you care about science, if you care about history, if you care philosophy, if you care about music; all of these different things that transcend diverse communities, then you should be out here too,” Joyner said.

Joyner explained that the U.S. is closer to repeating history than most are aware considering that “the Nazi’s banned books too.”

The “Stop Woke Act,” the “Don’t Say Gay” law and banning an Advanced Placement African American history course in public high schools in the state are just a few of the actions that have fueled the fire blazing within these students. DeSantis’ attempts to limit and constrict the education of Floridians is expected to have lasting effects on the worldview on the next generation if his efforts are not reversed.

Undergraduate student Trinity White says she’s rallying because she doesn’t want to “conform to his (DeSantis) demands.”

“Ron DeSantis is abusing his power to erase minorities from history, education, legislation …You’re trying to erase us from the very state we live in,” White said.

Stand for Freedom is advertising another demonstration at New College of Florida on Tuesday in an attempts to stop the DeSantis administration from overtaking the liberal arts college’s policies and programs for diversity, equity and inclusion.

So far, DeSantis has appointed six new conservatives members to the school’s Board of Trustees, who promptly  fired the college’s president and began to dismantle a curriculum that promoted critical race theory.

Dream Defenders member Marcus Williams is fighting for change because he believes the state  is guilty of “barbaric overreach.”

“Mobilizing against things that are violent, things that are unsafe, things that don’t allow us to live an equitable life is my civic duty,” Williams said.