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UF Expels Arrested Pro-Palestinian Protesters from School; Naples Student Suspended

GAINESVILLE – The University of Florida rejected recommendations for lenient punishment for some students arrested after pro-Palestinian protests on campus during secret hearings and expelled all of them from the school for three to four years.

The decisions by the new dean of students, Chris Summerlin, essentially rejected sentencing recommendations made by a jury, known as a hearing panel, that heard testimony and watched police footage of protests and arrests made during disciplinary proceedings.

The students were among nine people arrested by university police and Florida State Police on April 29 during a demonstration on the University of Florida campus. They were among the first students arrested in Florida, and all remain banned from the university.

In at least two cases, hearing boards recommended probation for Keely Nicole Gliwa, 23, of Gainesville — a master’s student who expected to graduate May 2 — and deferred suspension for Parker Stanely Hovis, 26, of Naples, Fla. The university withheld Gliwa’s degree and suspended both Gliwa and Hovis for three years.

In other cases, the hearing panel recommended one-year suspensions for Tess Jaden Segal, 20, of Weston, Florida, and Allan Hector Frasheri, 21, of Largo, Florida, but the University of Florida suspended Segal for three years and Frasheri for four years.

The university suspended Roseanna Yashoda Bisram, 20, of Ocala, for three years, the same period recommended by the hearing panel. Augustino Matthias Pulliam, 20, a freshman theater major from Jacksonville, was also suspended for three years.

Charly Pringle, a 21-year-old student at nearby Santa Fe College in Jacksonville, was suspended for three years as part of a separate disciplinary action by her school.

Seven students said they had filed appeals seeking to overturn their penalties, which are still pending.

Suspensions mean everyone would have to reapply to UF. The only worse punishment would be expulsion, which would prevent them from returning.

Meanwhile, all nine people arrested at UF said they rejected deferred prosecution agreements offered to them by the Alachua County State’s Attorney’s Office as part of plea deals. Under such agreements, a defendant would plead not guilty and have the charges effectively expunged from his record if he committed no further crimes for a specified period of time, usually 12 months. None of the nine had prior criminal records.

“We did not resist arrest and are prepared to fight our charges,” Hovis said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with each other and collectively demand that the state drops the charges against us.”

Their lawsuits were expected to be resolved by summer. State’s Attorney Brian Kramer is a Republican who faces re-election in November.

Of the nine, Ember Boerboom, 24, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was a former UF student, Pringle was a Santa Fe student and Jinx Rooney, 23, of Valrico, Florida, had no apparent ties to the university.

All face misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest without violence, except Frasheri, who prosecutors charged with assaulting a police officer. Hovis also faces another misdemeanor charge, trespassing. Police said that during the protest, Hovis refused to answer when asked if he would leave, so he was arrested.

Under the university’s disciplinary rules, Summerlin had the right to reject the recommendations of the hearing panels, which are typically made up of faculty members. Summerlin, who started at UF in April, the same month the arrests occurred, declined Tuesday through a spokesman to say why he imposed harsher-than-recommended sanctions in almost every case.

The results of the disciplinary hearings — which took place in May and June — were described in a press release sent out by students Tuesday. The privacy of the school’s disciplinary process is protected by federal law, and only the students involved can legally reveal what happened behind closed doors. Two UF students, including Segal, are Jewish, they said.

“I stand in solidarity with the Palestinians not despite my Judaism, but because of it,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, recently released footage of law enforcement officers apparently captured the moment one of them was accused of spitting at a police officer in the most serious of cases.

Prosecutors accused Frasheri of spitting on the right shoulder of university police officer Krista Sasser as she helped a state trooper walk away with another arrested protester. Sasser, who also testified at at least one university disciplinary hearing, said in court documents that Frasheri “came up to us and spat on me. His saliva landed on my right shoulder. I separated from the escort and arrested Frasheri for assault.”

Video footage of the arrests, obtained from the Highway Patrol under Florida’s public records law, shows Frasheri playing with a water bottle while wearing a medical mask pulled down over his chin and joining the crowd in shouting “shame” at the officers arresting their colleagues.

Vivienne Serret

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Fresh take on Florida

Unidentified Florida Highway Patrol officers arrest one of nine pro-Palestinian protesters on the University of Florida campus late Monday, April 29, 2024.

As Sasser walked past, Frasheri’s upper body appeared to lunge toward her while holding a water bottle. Sasser turned around and appeared a few seconds later behind Frasheri to arrest him. Frasheri is scheduled to appear at an upcoming court hearing on July 24 for an update on his case.

UF President Ben Sasse praised the police during a news conference in May: “What you did, even though you were being spat at and cursed at, is incredible,” Sasse said.

The university has so far refused to release other police videos showing the arrests, despite a reporter’s request for copies April 30 — 70 days ago — as required by state law. The school also has not provided requested copies of communications between the general counsel, Sasse and the police departments.

One of the government’s expected witnesses in the defendants’ upcoming criminal trials was identified in court documents as Aaron Michael Sarner, 24, of Hollywood, Fla., a UF law student listed as vice president of the group Students Supporting Israel. Sarner did not return calls and messages for several days asking about his role in the cases.

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]You can make a donation to support our students Here.