Hours before a meeting at the Gainesville City Hall on upcoming renovations to the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, UF sent a letter.
“We will not have representatives at the Aug. 1 event,” wrote UF Vice President for university relations Jane Adams to the city, citing negotiations between students and administrators already in place.
The Intervention Town Hall event scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday was then immediately canceled and postponed to Aug. 23, said District 1 City Commissioner Charles Goston.
Goston said he proposed and sponsored the event to bring students, UF administrators and city commissioners together for an open conversation on the two-house design for IBC and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Affairs, or La Casita, that UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs announced July 18.
Before MCDA said it would abandon their conjoined “U”-shaped design and pursue a plan for two separate houses, UF students and faculty had been going back and forth for months.
Goston said he felt Tuesday’s City Hall meeting could’ve been an opportunity to better the relationship between the students and administrators and move forward.
“It’s disappointing,” Goston said. “I guess they felt like they would be attacked if they came to the event.”
UF administrators have been reinvited to the new “Intervention” on Aug. 23, Goston said. As of press time, it is unclear whether the university will send representatives.
UF spokesperson Janine Sikes said the university will continue working with students on the two houses project, but not necessarily in the format Goston has proposed, which involves local government.
“We have not formally declined but our intention is to engage on this topic on our campus,” wrote Sikes in an email.
For Daniel Clayton, he feels it’s a shame that UF is looking at the event purely from a public relations standpoint.
Clayton said he and his fellow student organizers involved with “No La IBCita” — a coalition of students dedicated to having students’ voices heard in the renovations process — now want the process to involve the entire Gainesville community, not just UF students and administrators.
The 22-year-old UF electrical engineering senior said he also sees the open-dialogue format of the “intervention” event as a way to keep all parties accountable.
“It’s an opportunity for all parties to come together and say, ‘Look, there’s been a lot of drama — let’s find a way to move forward,’” he said.