Rollins College students gathered with members of the community as part of a statewide rally against education policies proposed by the DeSantis administration. The “Stand for Freedom” movement, organized by Florida College Democrats and the Dream Defenders organization, encouraged college and university students to walk out of classes and other campus events between noon and 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.
The protest was in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ rejection of an AP African American studies course, and recent proposals that include the exploration of alternatives to College Board’s AP classes and tests. A Rollins College representative told the32789 that, “Students entirely organized the rally and are following campus protocols to make this happen.”
Approximately 45 participants gathered outside Bush Science Center; some held signs while others took turns speaking. The event included a range of age groups with one speaker – self-proclaimed baby-boomer Darryl Gray – congratulating students for making their voices heard.
DeSantis rejected the College Board approved AP African American studies course, stating that it promoted ideology over truth, and demanded changes be made before allowing Florida public high schools to include it. He then suggested alternatives to College Board after the organization criticized the administration for misrepresenting the facts of the curriculum.
Formed in 1900, College Board was created to expand access to higher education through programs that include the SAT, Advanced Placement Programs, and BigFuture resources.
Protesters also cited the signing of HB1557 – aka, the “Don’t Say Gay” law – and HB7, known as the Stop WOKE Act, as examples of attempts to restrict inclusion and student rights in the educational system. However, proponents see the legislation as a means of protecting parents’ rights, and keeping improper and/or discriminatory subject matter from school curriculum.
Rollins student Stella Morris, who is one of the local event organizers, introduced herself to the group as president of the Rollins College Democrats.
“It’s a partisan organization, but education is not a partisan issue,” she said. “We stand in solidarity with the thousands of college kids who are walking out of their schools right now to stand up for their rights, their liberties, their voices.”