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Billionaire Joe Ricketts’ attempt to address the New College of Florida commencement ceremony, May 22, 2024.

New College of Florida, a public liberal arts college in Sarasota, Florida, is imposing disciplinary action against students who protested at the commencement ceremony on May 17, the Herald-Tribune reported on Wednesday.

As billionaire Joe Ricketts took the podium during the college’s graduation ceremony, a vocal group of students expressed their opposition. The student section broke into chants of “free Palestine” and scattered expletives, while some graduates (or so they thought) draped themselves in stoles bearing the “Palestinian” flag.


After New College President Richard Corcoran decided to stop his speech, Ricketts told him, “They don’t care. I hate it, but they really don’t care what I have to say.”

Joe Ricketts, 83, has an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion as of 2024, according to Forbes. He is the founder, former CEO and former chairman of TD Ameritrade. His other pursuits include, High Plains Bison, The Lodge at Jackson Fork, The American Film Company, The Ricketts Art Foundation, Opportunity Education Foundation, The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation, The Ricketts Conservation Foundation, and the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team. But why should those students listen to what he has to say?

On Monday, President Corcoran published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Protests Couldn’t Stop Graduation at New College of Florida,” with the sub-headline, “The students who booed our commencement speaker will be subjected to appropriate discipline.” He wrote:

“In the aftermath, supporters of the student protesters expressed concerns about potential repercussions for their behavior. I reaffirmed New College’s unwavering commitment to fairness and due process. Several students now face consequences for their actions. Repercussions could range from withholding degrees until students issue apology letters or take mandatory classes on civil discourse to suspension or expulsion.
In the final exchange inadvertently captured on the mic, Mr. Ricketts and I acknowledged the broader significance of our actions. It wasn’t merely about New College but about upholding the principles of free speech and civil discourse in an increasingly polarized society.”

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