University of Florida bans from campus teaching assistant accused of vandalizing pro-Israel flag
Image via Fresh Take Florida.

111023 Lowry
'Free speech is protected. Vandalism is not. And we will do our very best to ensure that the University of Florida is a welcoming place for all.'

The University of Florida (UF) banned a graduate student who is a teaching assistant from campus for three years after campus police accused him of vandalizing a pro-Israel sign by a predominantly Jewish fraternity.

Simon Nicholas Lowry, 24, of Gainesville is facing two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief involving the incident at Alpha Epsilon Pi, according to a sworn complaint filed by university police in Alachua County Circuit Court. Police said this week that Lowry admitted vandalizing the sign last month after they saw him on surveillance cameras they had placed in the area.

In an interview Friday, Lowry declined to discuss the charges against him “at this moment.” He said he planned to provide a written statement next week that would explain his actions. He also said has been reading news reports about the criminal case against him.

Lowry was a graduate teaching assistant in UF’s Department of Astronomy and a member of UF’s Graduate Assistant Union. Two of the organization’s members were arrested in March after they were accused of tearing down an anti-abortion sign by a group demonstrating on campus.

The fraternity’s flag, which said “AEPi stands with Israel,” was vandalized last month. The incident was among cases around the U.S. of antisemitic or anti-Israel actions protesting Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

“This student’s actions were deliberate and unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of Florida,” campus Police Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick said in a statement. “Free speech is protected. Vandalism is not. And we will do our very best to ensure that the University of Florida is a welcoming place for all.”

The police department said that, in addition to the criminal misdemeanor charges, Lowry’s case was being referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. It said he was banned from campus for three years unless he successfully appealed the trespass order.


This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected]. You can donate to support our students here.

Fresh Take Florida


  • Clif Curry

    November 10, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Don’t say this often, go Gators!

    • Miami Mike

      November 13, 2023 at 3:20 pm

      You can’t just litter flags all over a public campus . That makes it abandoned property and open to any and all damage

  • My Take

    November 10, 2023 at 3:23 pm

    DeSScumtis instead vandalises the Constitution.
    Trying to ban any support for Palestinians.

    • It's Complicated

      November 10, 2023 at 4:12 pm

      Do you believe it is acceptable for Person A to vandalize, shutdown, shout down, or perpetrate violence against the free speech exercise of Person B because Person A disagrees with the message or viewpoint? Who is actually anti-free speech in this scenario?

      • Rick Whitaker

        November 11, 2023 at 6:52 am


      • Phil Morton

        November 16, 2023 at 5:51 am

        I’ve got a few hundred cases of Clinton(both), Gore, Kerry, Obama, Biden signs being vandalized in my yard over the years. The police won’t even investigate. Not seeing how this is any different.

  • My Take

    November 10, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    It’s not worth trying to discuss things with conservative dregs.
    They can’t read, they can’t think, and they are dishonest personally and intellectually.
    Which is the only thing they are intellectually.

  • rbruce

    November 10, 2023 at 8:25 pm

    A bored destructive Astronomy graduate student? Who would have thunked?

    • My Take

      November 10, 2023 at 10:01 pm

      And with the Israeli flag with a star !

  • money talks

    November 16, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    But it is ok for billionaires to intimidate, blackmail and send HR departments blacklists of people who want to stop genocide.

    We are heading for fascism.

Comments are closed.


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