Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, and Rep. John Temple, R-Wildwood, filed identical bills that would revoke college scholarships from students who promote a terrorist organization on a Florida college or university campus.
Students would not be eligible for institutional or state grants, financial aid, scholarships, or tuition assistance if they are found to be promoting foreign terrorist organizations during any term of his or her enrollment, according to HB 465 and SB 470.
Those students who promote a foreign terrorist organization while enrolled must be assessed the out-of-state Florida college system and state university system fees. Fee waivers would also not apply to those students, according to the legislation.
Under the identical bills, a foreign terrorist organization includes, but is not limited to, Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad.
“The heinous terrorist attack on October 7 have pulled back the curtain and exposed the rampant antisemitism happening on the campuses of colleges and universities throughout this country,” Ingoglia said. “In Florida, we will not stand for Hamas apologists advocating for the genocide of the Israeli people.”
“Florida taxpayers should not be in the business of subsidizing the education of terrorist sympathizers who wish to do us, and others, harm,” he said.
Since the terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, several student-led organizations have held protests showing solidarity for Palestine and in some cases calling Hamas’ actions “justified.”
“The rising disruptions, growing anti-semitic sentiments and hate speech across college and university campuses in this nation are a terrible tragedy,” Temple said. “Our learning institutions are meant for just that, learning— not a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination.”
“Florida’s commitment is to stand with Israel and not be complicit to foreign terrorist organizations making post-secondary institutions a place for activism,” he said.
The bill said public postsecondary educational institutions must report through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security any information related to the status of a student on an F-1 student visa if that student promotes any foreign terrorist organization.
Florida’s attorney general, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Board of Governors previously sent memos to universities, colleges and law enforcement reminding them about their “responsibility to protect the Jewish community from threats and unlawful harassment.”
Reps. Randy Fine, R-Melbourne Beach, and Mike Caruso, R-Delray Beach, carried a bill this year that would increase penalties for intimidating or threatening someone based on religious or ethnic heritage.
The Melbourne Beach lawmaker also worked to pass HB 741 in 2019, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion in the public school system. It requires institutions treat discrimination motivated by antisemitic intent “in an identical manner to discrimination motivated by race.”
In a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Fine had asked for those laws to be used following pro-Hamas campus protests.
The governor and State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues ordered universities in October to dismantle various student chapters that had been aligned with support for “Hamas terrorism.”
Rodrigues wrote to university presidents that at least two chapters under the body known as as “National Students for Justice in Palestine” must be immediately terminated, because of the national organization saying member students are “PART of this movement” against Israel, referring to Hamas’ attacks.
The chancellor wrote that it is a felony to knowingly provide material to support a designated foreign terrorist organization.
“Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it is part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood—a terrorist led attack,” he wrote.
That situation is ongoing, however, and the chapters have reportedly not yet been terminated.
As those specific groups have been scrutinized, other protests across Florida college and university campuses have continued.