Students continue to play the game of “Where’s Waldo?” with a new University of Florida celebrity: President Ben Sasse.
Sasse has rarely been spotted on campus or even heard from by university students all semester. In his email to the university on Feb. 6, as he was taking office, he promised “transition tutorials” including meeting with each of the colleges’ deans and meeting with students.
Yet, no one has seen him.
The president is slowly becoming a mystified enigma. His rise to the position angered the student body and faculty. Appointed to the position of university president while being a sitting U.S. Senator for Nebraska, Sasse garnered distrust from some students for his conservative takes on topics like same-sex marriage and reproductive healthcare like abortion access.
The UF Student Body President Lauren Lemasters sat on the Board of Trustees and voted to approve him as the UF president. She faced intense backlash from the general student body and her own cabinet. Both the vice president and treasurer released statements expressing disapproval of Lemaster’s vote to approve of Sasse.
In his second official day as president, Sasse was unveiling potential plans for a new UF satellite campus in Jacksonville. According to a university press release, the announcement came to highlight the possibilities to build out another extension campus and work with the city of Jacksonville for the state’s flagship university.
However, students are upset to see that the president spent his first few days in office issuing press releases for potential university expansion plans instead of meeting with students on campus in Gainesville.
Emily Santiana, a UF political and education sciences senior said it’s concerning that the new president has been missing-in-action.
“We saw President Kent Fuchs all the time on campus, taking pictures with students, hosting events, and even sending emails,” she said. “But with President Sasse, it has felt like radio silence.”
Students who were upset by his appointment find it to be exactly what they anticipated.
Lily Kalandjian, a junior studying political science and Chinese, organized and participated in the anti-Sasse protests in the fall semester. She called his absence evidence that he was the wrong selection as university president.
“As a political student leader on campus, I knew he was going to be absent, but his lack of effort has been even more disappointing,” she said.
Students are noticing the loud silence and inaction coming from Tigert Hall. Sasse and his office did not respond for comment after being contacted for this article.
The question of where in the world President Sasse started when he posted pictures of Lake Alice during the university’s spring break when campus was virtually empty. Students began flooding the comments and reposting the post on their stories. They made fun of his off-duty attitude as they haven’t seen him.
The reposts and comments led to him restricting comments on his account.
Jadie Di Sano was among the students who reposted and commented on the post with her disappointment with the out-of-touch president.
Di Sano, business management senior, has been adamant about her hesitation of the Sasse administration. Her comment, along with other students’ negative comments, have been deleted from the post.
“It was so clear what Sasse was doing, ignoring all of his students, while posting the best parts of campus. Completely two-faced,” she said.
Ultimately, the future of the university holds in the balance of a difficult-to-find character.
Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.
Featured Image: Ben Sasse in 2016 (Unmodified photo by Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons License. https://bit.ly/41EIGDQ)