New College of Florida students are hosting a rebel graduation ceremony in protest over the school’s chosen speaker, Trump adviser Scott Atlas.

Early this year, Governor Ron DeSantis ousted the elected board of trustees for the New College of Florida, replacing it with six appointees of his own, four of them well-known conservatives with no ties to Florida. Since then, the board has denied tenure to five professors who had already been approved by the faculty, four of them people of color. They also replaced the school’s president with former Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran, dismantled all diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in the school, and fired the school librarian for refusing to censor the library’s catalog.

The New College of Florida student-body was already in a state of near-revolt over the changes when it was announced that Scott Atlas, former President Trump’s adviser during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be the key speaker at their commencement ceremony on May 19th. As pandemic adviser, Atlas preached herd immunity without vaccination, which is shorthand for ‘once all the vulnerable people are dead, those left are immune.’

Students almost overnight fundraised over $100,000 for an alternative commencement ceremony to take place one night earlier, inviting civil rights voice Maya Wiley to be their new keynote speaker.

“We’re now guaranteed a graduation surrounded by the New College of Florida community members that truly want to celebrate who we are, rather than those attempting to change our culture,” Madison Markham, a graduating senior and one of the students planning the event, said in a statement.

“The students at the New College of Florida have achieved amazing academic success in the face of abhorrent challenges,” Wiley said in a statement. “They endured COVID and the politicization of their education. They have advocated tirelessly for the freedom to learn free of politics, for the freedom to be who they are, and for the freedom to fight for a campus community that embraces all who work and learn in it.”

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