Video: New College board wants $2M for ‘Freedom Institute’ to combat cancel culture

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — New College of Florida President Richard Corcoran has declared the liberal arts school a “haven for Harvard refugees,” and is offering free tuition to students “facing intolerance or physical danger” at the Ivy League school.

The announcement follows a raft of reported antisemitic incidents on college campuses, including Harvard, amid unrest over the Israel-Hamas war.

“Anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head at Harvard. Since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre of some 1,400 Israelis, Jewish students there have reportedly been bullied, intimidated, spat on and, in at least one case, physically assaulted,” Corcoran wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, titled “New College Is a Haven for Harvard Refugees.”

The piece comes after billionaire hedge fund CEO Bill Ackman penned a letter, calling on Harvard to address antisemitism on campus, calling the situation “dire.”

“Bill Ackman, a Harvard alumnus and hedge-fund manager urged the university to act swiftly, but I wouldn’t hold my breath and neither should its students,” Corcoran wrote. “Instead, those facing intolerance or physical danger at Harvard should come to New College of Florida, where they can study with free tuition thanks to a newly established scholarship program.”

Corcoran said Harvard students will find that New College values free speech, but noted that “violence isn’t part of that and never will be,” and that the school has enforced disciplinary actions and enacted measures to better protect students against violence and threats.

“The First Amendment wasn’t intended to include, as Mr. Ackman described it, ‘knowingly advocating . . . violent insurrection and threatening a person or group of persons with the intent of placing the victim in fear of bodily harm or death,'” Corcoran wrote.

“Anyone suffering injustices at Harvard should visit our campus to learn about academic life in Florida—now on offer with free tuition.”

WFLA has reached out to the school to find out more information about the program, and how Harvard students, if interested, can apply.

Last month, New College announced it “unequivocally stands with Israel and the Jewish people” during the war, and was among the first public universities to do so.

Corcoran, the former Republican Florida House speaker and state education commissioner, has spearheaded a number of changes at the liberal arts school after its Board of Trustees terminated his predecessor, Patricia Okker earlier this year.

Okker’s termination came weeks after Gov. Ron DeSantis replaced six members of the board in an effort to transform the school.