The University of Florida Faculty Senate approved a no-confidence resolution Thursday on the selection process to appoint US Sen. Ben Sasse as the next president, officials said.
The 67 to 15 vote comes after Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, became the only person considered for the high-ranking position at one of Florida’s largest universities. His candidacy sparked controversy on campus partially due to his 2015 comments on LGBTQ+ rights after the US Supreme Court ruled to guarantee same-sex marriage at the federal level.
When pressed about the comments during an on-campus forum earlier this month, Sasse said the decision was “the law of the land,” adding that it wasn’t going to change in the near future, The Independent Florida Alligator reported.
When asked about promoting diversity at the university, Sasse said, “I want us to figure it out by listening to our community and our conversation, who is not feeling included and how do we tackle those problems and reduce those barriers,” according to the Alligator.
Following the high court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage, Sasse took the stance that only a man and a woman should get married and create a family.
“The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states,” Sasse said in a June 2015 statement that remains on his official government website.
The emergency meeting Thursday included an extensive discussion on the selection process for president, including requests for more clarity on the process. Ultimately, the faculty senate voted to approve the no-confidence resolution.
The vote is symbolic and will not impact the UF Board of Trustees final vote scheduled for November 1. The university has said it will enforce its rule to not allow protests inside the buildings on campus.
CNN reached out to Sasse’s office for comment.
Members of the faculty senate also heard from three faculty members who served on the Board of Trustees selection committee that unanimously supported Sasse’s appointment.
Dr. Lisa Lundy, a professor with the School of Agricultural Education and Communication, served on the search committee and explained how Sasse became the sole candidate when other candidates decided they didn’t want to be named publicly unless they were the sole finalist.
“I think the situation was that all of the candidates were in positions that they felt could be compromised if people found that they were in the running for another job,” Lundy said.
At least one attendee asked if the LGBTQ+ community came up in the interview discussions with Sasse.
Dr. David Bloom, another member of the selection committee, said that was the first question that he asked Sasse.
According to Bloom, Sasse said he was “supporting his constituency in Nebraska, but he would be supporting the constituency of the faculty, staff, the students at UF if he were to become president.” Bloom added that he felt the responses were genuine.
After the discussion, many expressed a desire for more transparency in the selection process, acknowledging that a new state law creates a challenge in disclosing the identities of the applicants throughout the selection process.
Before his election to the US Senate in 2014, Sasse was president of Midland University, a Lutheran liberal arts school in Nebraska with an enrollment of about 1,600.
Earlier this month, a source told CNN that Sasse would resign by the end of the year to take on the role at the Florida university.