National Groups Joins Forces with Local Organizations & Community to Rally Against SB 846 in Florida


Media Contact: 

Melissa Stek, (AASF)

Jiangeng Xue, (FCFA)

Ming Fang, (The Yick Wo Institution)

ACLU of Florida Media Office, (ACLU Florida)

Haipei Shue,, (UCA)

APA Justice Media, (APA Justice)

Michelle Boykins, (Advancing Justice | AAJC)

Washington, DCNearly 25 local organizations are leading the effort and working in solidarity to challenge SB 846 with Florida Chinese Faculty Association (FCFA) as the hosting organization. The Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) led national groups such as ACLU of Florida, United Chinese Americans (UCA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and APA Justice in support of and in collaboration with local rally leaders, organizers, professors, and students to host a rally today on March 26 to oppose SB 846 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. This controversial state bill passed in July 2023 restricts the state’s public colleges and universities from “accepting grants from or participating in partnerships or agreements” with individuals or schools from countries identified as “countries of concern.” These include China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria. SB 846 also restricts Florida’s public colleges and universities’ ability to hire researchers and graduate assistants from these countries. In addition, SB 846 restricts scientific collaboration by requiring approval for licensing intellectual property, sharing research data, and collaborating with researchers from the countries of concern. This would have a chilling effect on open science and could broadly harm scientific innovation and leadership in Florida and the U.S.

The March 26th rally aims to unite Asian American scholars, allies, and the academic community in promoting academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality while amplifying collective voices in demanding that the Florida Board of Governors address concerns about the bill. The rally will feature various speakers and local community leaders who will share personal experiences while articulating the urgent need to address and reconsider SB 846. Through this event, national groups and local organizations and communities hope to foster dialogue, raise awareness, and ultimately drive meaningful action.

SB 846 is part of Florida’s recent attacks on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) targeting minority groups on-campus. Students on March 27th will also be marching and rallying in protest of the recent attacks on DEI. On Friday, March 1st, 2024, the first day after Black History Month, the Board of Trustees fired the entire office of the Chief Diversity Officer in compliance with Board of Governors regulation. This is part of an ongoing theme of oppressive and discriminatory legislation in Florida that many students and faculty are deeply concerned about.

“The severe restrictions on academic exchange, international collaborations, and student and scholar recruitment outlined in SB 846 and the ensuing guidelines by the Board of Governors pose a significant threat to our cherished academic freedom and the caliber of our research endeavors, and will ultimately hurt the research productivity and reputation of the Florida public universities.” says Jiangeng Xue, the President of the Florida Chinese Faculty Association. “This approach runs counter to the intended protection of national security because it harms US leadership in science and technology, not only in the talent pipeline, but also in research and development.”

“As faculty members of the University of Central Florida, an institution celebrated for its diversity and innovation, we stand resolutely against SB846. This bill undermines the academic freedom and intellectual diversity that are the bedrock of higher education,” Yan Lu, Associate Professor of Finance at UCF, President of the Greater Orlando Chinese Professionals Association,   “At UCF, we cherish an environment where varied ideas and innovative thinking flourish. We urge lawmakers to recognize the detrimental impact of this legislation on the educational and democratic values we hold dear. 

“Closing the door and excluding talents from those countries will not make Florida more secure or better off. It will only create long-lasting detrimental impacts that will be extremely difficult to reverse. It will only hurt the reputation and competitiveness of all public universities in Florida,” Yanshuo Sun, an assistant professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at FSU “I call Florida home, and I have my family here. Despite the increasingly hostile environment for faculty members of Chinese descent, I have not given up. I stand firmly for equal opportunity and access and fight against any form of discrimination in academia.”

“SB846 unfairly punishes all researchers, driving them away to states with a more welcoming environment .But, this is not the only reason that we are opposing SB846”, Arash Fahim, an associate professor of Mathematics at FSU points out, “It is bad because it is analogous to amputating an arm because of a mosquito bite.”

“As a faculty member in the State University System and representing the Yick Wo Institution, dedicated to advancing equal rights and empowering minority communities, I stand in solidarity with all those rallying against SB 846. Together, let us uphold the principles of inclusivity and academic freedom, ensuring that our universities remain beacons of opportunity for all.” Ming Fang, an associate teaching professor at Florida International University, also a founding member of the Yick Wo Institution

Eva García Ferrés, Co-president of the Graduate Assistants United at UF said, “Our academic community thrives on international collaboration. SB 846 is a malicious and xenophobic bill that directly attacks our community. It conforms to a pattern that sadly we are now used to – the destruction of academic freedom and the pillars of the university. Decisions on who to hire, what to teach and what to research have always been made by the experts of the field. Here in Florida, this is no longer true.This is not a problem at the University of Florida alone – nor is it a problem of Florida exclusively. We are a testing ground. What happens here will happen elsewhere. “

“Education knows no boundaries; it’s a universal right that should be accessible to all, regardless of nationality or background.” Leticia Zheng, President, Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) at the University of Florida

“Asian American Scholar Forum recognizes the importance of solidarity and collaboration in advocating for the rights and well-being of Asian American scholars,” said Gisela Perez Kusakawa, AASF Executive Director. “We are honored to have worked closely with the local community in uplifting and amplifying their voices. By uniting with local leaders and national organizations, the rally seeks to shed light that the fight here in Florida is of national importance and needs to be heard at the highest levels and addressed.”

“SB 846 is xenophobia at its finest,” said Nicholas Warren, ACLU Florida Staff Attorney, “This law is unfair, unjustified, and unconstitutional. It will not go unchecked.”

“This law is the return of McCarthyism, pure and simple. Florida is the first state in the history of the Union to restrict foreign students,” said Haipei Shue, UCA President. “A shameful first! How far and how low will De Santis go in dragging the good and hospital sunshine name of Florida through the red-baiting mud?”

“The Florida SB 846 exacerbates the historical discrimination toward Asian Americans, creates an environment of fear and undercuts the American leadership in science and technology.” said Dr. Jeremy Wu, Dr. Steven Pei and Vincent Wang, Co-organizers of APA Justice. “We strongly support the request by professors, researchers and students to have clear guidelines and procedures for engaging and hiring international researchers and scholars, and pursue academic freedom.”

Joanna YangQing Derman, Director of the Anti-Profiling, Civil Rights, and National Security program at Advancing Justice | AAJC said, “Asian American and Asian immigrants are no strangers to discriminatory legislation and SB846 is no different. Not only is it harmful to scientific innovation, but also part of a larger effort to castigate members of our communities under the guise of national security.”


Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) is a national non-profit that promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments and profiling in the U.S., AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars. AASF membership includes members from the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, in addition to past and current university presidents, provost, vice provosts, deans, associate deans and past and current department chairs.

The ACLU of Florida, headquartered in Miami, is the state affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. Chartered in 1965, the ACLU of Florida operates throughout the state. The mission of the ACLU of Florida is to protect, defend, strengthen, and promote the constitutional rights and liberties of all people in Florida. We envision a fair and just Florida, where all people are free, equal under the law, and live with dignity.

United Chinese Americans (UCA) is a community wide coalition dedicated to the empowering and enriching of Chinese Americans. 

Asian Pacific American Justice Task Force (APA Justice) is a non-profit, non-partisan platform to build a sustainable ecosystem that addresses racial profiling concerns and to facilitate, inform, and advocate on selected issues related to justice and fairness for the Asian Pacific American community.

The Yick Wo Institution is committed to empowering minority communities through conducting public policy research on social, cultural and political issues, advocating equal rights through various media platforms and educating community members for strategic civic engagement.

Florida Chinese Faculty Association is a non-political and not-for-profit organization located in Gainesville, FL, USA. FCFA members are Chinese descents who presently hold faculty appointments at the University of Florida (UF). The primary purposes for which the Association is formed are to promote interdisciplinary research and interactions among its members, to mentor junior faculty members, and to increase the visibility of its members by facilitating the interactions with others at the University of Florida and peer institutions.

Graduate Assistants United (GAU) at the University of Florida is the labor union representing graduate assistants at University of Florida, advocating for better wages, fair working conditions, and benefits. Committed to promoting fairness and solidarity among graduate students, GAU engages in negotiations with university administration and advocacy to improve the graduate experience and support the university’s academic mission.

The Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) at the University of Florida is a student-led organization dedicated to supporting the Chinese community on campus. CSSA provides a platform for cultural exchange, networking, and assistance to Chinese students and scholars in navigating academic and daily life in the U.S. Through organizing cultural events, informational workshops, and social gatherings, CSSA fosters a sense of belonging and promotes cultural understanding within the university community.

The Greater Orlando Chinese Professionals Association (OCPA) is a Florida registered non-profit organization founded in June 1995 by a group of dedicated and enthusiastic Chinese professionals in Orlando. Since then, OCPA has established itself as a dynamic and influential organization serving the interests of local Chinese as well as the community at large. OCPA currently is a home to more than 200 Chinese families in the greater Orlando area.