TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — U.S. District Judge Mark Walker compared a University of Florida policy barring professors from testifying as experts in lawsuits to Communist China, rebuking UF officials for their “unconstitutional suppression of ideas” in a searing 74-page ruling issued Friday.

“For more than twenty years, an imposing, eight-meter-tall statue stood on the University of Hong Kong’s campus,” Walker wrote of the Pillar of Shame, which was removed in December with little explanation from university officials. “In many ways, the Pillar’s demise was emblematic of the demise of academic freedom in Hong Kong.”

Walker used the comparison to admonish the policy, writing “If those in UF’s administration find this comparison upsetting, the solution is simple. Stop acting like your contemporaries in Hong Kong.”

Six University of Florida professors sued the university after they were prevented from testifying as experts in various lawsuits, including several challenging Florida’s new voting law.

All of the professors say their outside work had never been an issue before — in at least one instance, the professor had been praised for it — and in some cases the work was unpaid.

After the university’s policy became public, it was reversed due to public backlash.

In one denial of a professor’s request, the university wrote “[o]utside activities that may pose a conflict to the executive branch of the state of Florida create a conflict for the University of Florida.”

Walker’s ruling on the temporary injunction request from professors pauses the policy temporarily as the case moves through the legal process.