Two Florida chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine remain active, despite Gov. Ron DeSantis claiming he deactivated them during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential primary debate.
According to State University of Florida Chancellor Ray Rodrigues, both chapters of SJP said they are not chartered by the national organization that faces scrutiny from the DeSantis administration.
During the debate, DeSantis acknowledged the controversy surrounding the student organizations, but claimed the groups had been disbanded.
“We had a group of students for Justice of Palestine,” he said. “They said they are common cause with Hamas. They said, ‘We’re not just in solidarity. This is what we are.’ We deactivated them. We’re not gonna use tax dollars to fund Jihad.”
According to an October 24 letter to presidents in the state’s university system, Rodrigues ordered all SJP chapters in Florida to shut down because they violated state’s anti-terrorism statute. The directive, he wrote, was issued “in consultation with Governor DeSantis.”
But during Thursday’s State University System Board of Governors meeting, Rodrigues acknowledged that has not happened.
“The constitutions of both organizations, which were submitted by them at the beginning of the school year when they were registered as an active student-registered organization, clearly state their organization is not subservient or under the national Students for Justice in Palestine,” he said. “Therefore, the universities have not deactivated their university chapters of SJP.”
Rodrigues said that both universities have obtained legal opinions about dissolving these student chapters.
“We have reviewed those opinions, and in short, they raise concerns about potential personal liability for university actors who deactivate the student-registered organization,” he said.
The board is seeking its own outside legal counsel on this matter, Rodrigues said. It is also seeking affirmation from both local chapters that they reject violence, that they renounce that they are part of Hamas, and that they follow the law.