Two Students Fired From Positions, Suing the State

students firedvia FIU Flickr

Alexander Luzula | Assistant News Director

Two international students are suing state authorities after being dismissed from their position as graduate assistants at FIU following legislation that bans state universities from dealing with citizens from “countries of concern”.

Zhipeng Yin and Zhen Guo, doctoral students working as graduate research assistants at FIU were dismissed from their research positions following the implementation of SB 846, prohibiting state universities from communicating or negotiating with governments or citizens of “countries of concern”- China, Cuba, Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea. 

At the end of last semester, FIU implemented a hiring pause on candidates from these countries until the State University System’s Board of Governors revised their vetting process for these candidates. 

Yin, a computer science major, and Guo, a material engineering major, have now filed a lawsuit against the Board of Governors and Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., arguing that the law has unfairly targeted them and is racially discriminating against them, as well as jeopardizing their educational opportunities by firing them, as their research positions were requirements to completing their doctorates.

Yin and Guo are joined in this lawsuit by agricultural economics professor  Zhengfei Guan of the University of Florida, who claims that the new law has made him unable to recruit candidates for his research projects.

“This law is unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional,” said ACLU of Florida Director Daniel Tilley. “Everyone in the United States is entitled to equal protection under our laws, including citizens of other countries. The discriminatory policies pushed by the DeSantis administration will not go unchecked.”

Yin, Guo, and Guan are currently represented by the ACLU of Florida, as well as the Chinese American Legal Defense Fund, Perkins Coie LLP, and the Chinese American Scholar Forum.

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