9 Investigates 'Fight Club' at UCF

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Some parents and others are demanding that the University of Central Florida take action against a group of students, after the so-called ‘Knights For Socialism’ group hosted an event described as a ‘fight club’ on campus.

The event was tied to a promise to train students how to defend themselves against some supporters of President Donald Trump.

9 Investigates learned, however, that even with threats of violence against the group, the University has little control over the group’s message right now.

One post by the ‘Knights For Socialism’ advertised a ‘Leftist Fight Club.’  Another stated ‘Kick Their Axis- Stop the Alt-Right.’  The original event post, which is no longer available, said the fight club was open to everyone ‘except Republicans.’

“I’m very disappointed that UCF has not had a reaction to that yet,” UCF College Republicans Chairwoman Karis Lockhart said by phone.

“It’s contradictory, because they’re willing to fight people for different beliefs,” UCF student Ladranicia Lynch said.

9 Investigates learned those feelings extend beyond campus.  One parent wrote to admissions officials in an email that ‘if these students in this club are not expelled immediately, my son will be transferring to UF as soon as possible.’  Another man, claiming to be a student at the University of Alabama, threatened to bring a crowd to campus for a fight, writing ‘we will have ambulences (sic) on standby.’

“No one should be trying to incite violence, using force, in any way,” UCF student Stephen Rice said.

The ‘Knights For Socialism’ received our messages requesting an interview and responded with the following statement:

"Knights for Socialism is committed to fighting for intersectional justice on campus and in the Orlando community. We stand with marginalized communities facing all kinds of persecution, whether it be because of their ethnicity, their immigration status, their gender, who they love, or the size of their income.

Knights for Socialism exists to bring together passionate students who want to take direct action to improve, protect, and serve their community.

In light of recent events on campus, around the state, and throughout the country, we've heard concerns from fellow colleagues who now don't feel safe doing normal things like studying at the library. This past week, we held the first of many events geared towards improving students' sense of safety on campus. While there was apparent controversy over the marketing for the event, we stand committed to building positive relationships with students of all ideologies. Last semester, we participated in a debate with campus libertarians, and we look forward to discussing and debating our ideas in the future."

The group posted on its page that the ‘except Republicans’ comment in the fight club post was made in jest.

We found the University has little power to control the group, because it’s not registered to receive campus support or funding.  However, the group has started the process to become a recognized student group.

A University spokesman said in a statement:

“As Americans, all students have the right to free speech. However, we expect our entire campus community to be inclusive and respect the diverse perspectives of others.  In fact, fostering "an open and supportive campus environment and respecting the rights of every individual" is one of the tenets of the UCF Creed.  The group associated with the event you contacted us about is not a registered student organization - they are individual students. This means the group receives no university or state funding.  Although UCF supports the rights of all students to express their viewpoints, that certainly does not mean those viewpoints represent the positions of the university.”

Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.