Activist Emma Gonzalez slams New College bill in tweet to 1.6 million followers

Zac Anderson
zac.anderson@heraldtribune.com
Emma Gonzalez is a prominent gun control activist who attends New College of Florida. She is speaking out against a bill that would strip the Sarasota school of its independence. [Gannett archive]

After taking on elected leaders about gun rights in the wake of a shooting that killed 17 people at her high school in Parkland, prominent activist Emma Gonzalez is now speaking out about a bill that would strip her college of independence.

Gonzalez told her Twitter following of 1.6 million that an effort to make New College of Florida, which she now attends, a satellite of the University of Florida is “borne of incredible, and I mean incredible, stupidity.”

The state House Appropriations Committee is debating a bill today that would make New College and Florida Polytechnic University satellite campuses of UF.

Gonzalez worries that would destroy everything she loves about New College, namely its niche status in the state university system as a small liberal arts honors college that does not award grades and fosters an intimate environment between students and faculty.

“No part of me was interested in being a face lost in a lecture hall - to exist on a campus where the professors could not care less about my mental or physical health or abilities - to have letter grades that leave me pulling out my hair,” Gonzalez writes in a letter to lawmakers.

To the Florida representatives who are thinking about voting yes on the merger bill for New College - please don’t. It was borne of incredible, and I mean Incredible, stupidity. I couldn’t be in Tally to talk to you in person, but here is my testimony for you to read. pic.twitter.com/18upjCydWM

— Emma González (@Emma4Change) February 25, 2020

Gonzalez is one of the most prominent student activists to emerge in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She became famous, in part, thanks to a fiery speech she gave at a rally after the shooting.

Spotted last week at a rally held by students to protest the university consolidation bill, Gonzalez has kept a lower profile since starting college. She declined through a representative to be interviewed by the Herald-Tribune in 2018.

But the bill threatening New College’s independence appears to be on a fast track in the Florida House and Gonzalez seems eager to stand in the way.

“New College was my first, and, really only choice for college,” Gonzalez says in her letter to lawmakers.

“I wanted a place where I could be given countless and personalized opportunities,” she writes later. “To push for an arabic class to be taught, which my friends and I helped make happen, where I could go to parties on the weekend where all we do is cook dinner and listen to janelle monae, where I could leave my laptop on a table in the library for an hour unwatched and know that no one’s gonna take it, where I could drop out of spanish one day and take latin the next, where I could never have to take a math class and still graduate.”