Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) after the chancellor of the State University System of Florida ordered several pro-Palestinian student groups to be deactivated.
“My view is that the answer to bad speech is not less speech, it is more speech. And I think it is wrong for us to silence those we disagree with,” Ramaswamy said on Hill TV’s “Rising.”
Ramaswamy noted that while he believes the pro-Palestinian groups are “way out of line,” blacklisting students involved with the groups from future jobs is not the way to go.
“I don’t think that’s the American way. I don’t think that’s productive and I don’t think we convince any of those people by browbeating them into submission through fear either,” he added.
DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin in a statement to The Hill said, “if Ron DeSantis has to stand alone among the field of GOP primary contenders in taking action to curb pro-terrorist activity on college campuses, then so be it.
“SJP [National Students for Justice in Palestine] has publicly claimed itself as a ‘part’ of the Hamas terrorist movement, and therefore should be treated as such. As usual, Ron DeSantis acts while others talk,” he added.
Ray Rodrigues, the chancellor of the State University System of Florida, told the presidents of the university system in a memorandum dated Tuesday that several student chapters of the SJP needed to be disbanded following the national group’s response after Hamas attacked Israel earlier this month.
“In response, and leading up to a ‘Day of Resistance,’ the National Students for Justice in Palestine (National SJP) released a ‘toolkit’ which refers to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as ‘the resistance’ and unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement,” Rodrigues wrote to the university presidents.
“It is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization’ … Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it is part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood — a terrorist led attack,” Rodrigues asserted.
“These chapters exist under the headship of the National Students for Justice in Palestine, who distributed a toolkit identifying themselves as part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated,” he added.
The development comes as DeSantis is still largely viewed as former President Trump’s chief rival in the 2024 GOP primary, though former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has seen momentum in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Several prominent Republicans have come out in support of Haley in recent weeks.
This story was updated at 4:36 p.m.