Governor DeSantis’ Visit Creates Shockwaves Across Campus 


Jessica Piland

Protestors chant with signs outside of Alico Arena, where Ron DeSantis’ stopped on his Don’t Tread on Florida tour in Fort Myers, Nov. 6, 2022.

Tori Foltz, Editor-in-Chief

“Hey hey, ho ho, DeSantis has got to go,” echoed throughout main campus as protesters made their way to Alico Arena on Nov. 6 ahead of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Don’t Tread on Florida Tour stop at FGCU. 

FGCU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter organized a peaceful protest to show their objection to DeSantis visiting campus. With 30 protesters, some being from other YDSA chapters at Florida International University and Broward College, they marched holding signs and shouted chants. Students from FGCU’s Student Farmworker Alliance, People Power for Florida and FGCU adjunct professor and U.S. House candidate Dr. Cindy Banyai were in attendance.

“I want to stick out in support of everyone who has even been affected by all of [DeSantis’] policies,” YDSA member Jules Bustamante said. “I’m here because I’m standing up for LGBTQIA+ rights, immigrant rights, the rights for black indigenous people of color and anyone who’s marginalized and has been affected by his policies. They’ve affected all of the people in my life, and it’s time to take a stand and change that.”

Cars were lined up towards the entrance of North Lake Village, and a line began to form alongside the dorms as people waited for entry. Flags flying from pickup trucks, people wearing American flags and UPD officers were all the eye could see.

“I support his policies, views and the way he responds to political issues,” sophomore Nolan Marcoux, an event attendee, said. “He puts the state of Florida before anything else, and he doesn’t personally benefit from any new laws or policies that he implements.”

Once the protesters arrived on the scene, they were met with DeSantis’ supporters. Screaming commenced as the protesters moved to the middle of the basketball court nearest to Alico. They stayed until the event began at 6:30 p.m. 

“I’m very passionate about the rights of any minority that DeSantis has affected,” YDSA’s lead Safety Marshal Charlie Pervaza said. “I feel like people don’t really see with their eyes that we’re being affected, so I think coming out today makes it more prominent that there are people being affected.”

After passing through metal detectors without a confirmation of a ticket, tour attendees were met witht the smell of popcorn and “Let’s go Brandon” chants. 

The event began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Lee County Republican Party Chair and Florida State Senator-elect Johnathan Martin was the first to speak. He mentioned that the event took place with only a two-day notice. 

FGCU’s College Conservatives chapter made a post on their Instagram page on Nov. 1 announcing the event that would be taking place at Alico Arena. 

“We had no play in the actual planning, and that’s why we did not say that we were hosting DeSantis. The College Conservatives themselves were not hosting the event,” FGCU College Conservatives President Matthew Boggan said. 

Florida State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo was the second to come on stage followed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeannette Nuñez and U.S. House Representative Byron Donalds.

Country singer and songwriter Parker McCollum was listed on the program as a performer and sang songs for the crowd.

DeSantis was the last to come on stage, along with a brief speech from his wife and the First Lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis. 

The Governor talked about the importance of voting in the midterms that were just two days away and the things that he has done for Florida and Lee County, specifically after Hurricane Ian. 

“We are standing up for the principles that make this country great,” DeSantis said before he concluded the event.