DeSantis’ move proves the fight to reclaim American education is not a lost cause and — institutionally, at least — it may even be less of a conceptual uphill battle to reclaim the academy and rechart the trajectory of our nation’s youth than many may think. After all, it really shouldn’t be that difficult of a task for conservative leaders to appoint conservatives like Rufo to the boards of public schools in red states with Republican majority legislatures.
But even so, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a battle, and engaging in conflict — especially in the current political climate — comes with risk. With the understanding that their appointment to the board would likely ruffle the feathers of those in the predominantly leftist New College community, Rufo and Eddie Speir, another trustee, scheduled two town hall events in which they could address the concerns of students, parents, faculty, alumni, and the general public, which the Sarasota Democratic Party encouraged people to protest.
The night before the events took place, death threats were made against Speir, leading to college faculty, notably Provost Suzanne Sherman, confronting Rufo and Speir and insisting the event be shut down while encouraging students and faculty to “refrain from attending.” Catherine Helean, a public relations officer of the college, stated that the threats “were perceived to be credible.”
Despite the provost’s insistence that the event be canceled for safety, Speir — whose life was explicitly threatened — and Rufo pushed forward and were able to engage students, faculty, and community members in conversations about their concerns for New College in the months and years to come.
Here’s the pregame show before their speech:
Polite. Firm. Bravo. Trustees run institutions not those below them on the org chart. https://t.co/ILziyrdVHP
— Hugh Hewitt (@hughhewitt) January 28, 2023