New College of Florida seniors graduate, but their struggle continues

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New College students celebrated their official commencement ceremony Friday night. It came one day after an alternative graduation students held to protest the conservative direction that Governor Ron DeSantis has taken the school over the last several months.

Jacob Silverman studied philosophy and religion, and he’s looking at interning as a paralegal of going to Tokyo for work. He was wearing a white suit of armor as a nod to his favorite anime.

“So this is a Kaiba outfit.”

He was originally going to wear a cap and gown and a suit, until he got an email from interim president Richard Corcoran encouraging him to wear that.

“I kind of instantaneously knew I just had to do the opposite of that. And Yu-Gi-Oh! is like a very important thing from my childhood. I joke that I relate to this character a lot, so it felt like a fitting way to end my New College career.”

Richard Corcoran is a former Republican House Speaker. He was appointed New College’s interim president by its Board of Trustees, many of whom were put in place this year by DeSantis. Silverman encouraged current students to stick it out in spite of recent changes.

“The school is just amazing and the students just need to remember the administrative does not control the school, we control it. So as long as these wonderful students we have remain here I don’t think the school’s going to change, ultimately.”

Jovi Christos graduated with a degree in gender studies. They also attended the alternative graduation, where they said they felt like students could exist and be their authentic selves.

“And talking to professors and students outside an environment that feels polarized or politicized.”

Christos’ gender studies professor, Miriam Wallace started working there in 1995, and said recent attacks on gender studies and African American history are not new.

“And when she had told me, ‘Oh yea, they didn’t take us seriously then, and they might not take us seriously now, but we’ve been here the whole time.”

Christos plans to take some additional classes, and go back in the fall to show their support for current students as they endure a changing curriculum in an institution that has fallen under cultural division. It’s also under the shadow of a potential presidential campaign as DeSantis is expected to announce a run this week.