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December 20, 2001

CONTACT: Elizabeth Hirst
(850) 488-5394

Statement by Governor Jeb Bush Regarding University of South Florida Professor Al-Arian

"I strongly support the decision of the University of South Florida regarding Professor Sami Al-Arian. We all recognize the importance of freedom of speech and academic freedom in our universities. Professors have the right to say things that are unpopular. But they do not have the right to disrupt the life of a university.

"Professor Al-Arian chose to create a situation in which his presence on campus would seriously threaten the safety of the students he was hired to teach. Because of his persistent conduct, it is clear that it is not safe for Professor Al-Arian to return to the USF campus to carry out his teaching duties. Professor Al-Arian is failing to meet his fundamental obligation to USF and its students. President Genshaft and the USF trustees have rightly concluded that the taxpayers have no obligation to continue paying a teacher whose own actions have made it impossible for him to teach.

"I appreciate the thoughtful manner in which President Genshaft and the university trustees, under the leadership of chairman Dick Beard, have dealt with this issue."