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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Let’s talk about graduation. In the last couple of weeks, UF President Kent Fuchs’ office released documents stating that graduation will no longer be the same. All UF graduates will now attend two graduation ceremonies. The first will be a combination of every single college in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and the second will be hosted by each individual college. The announcement resulted in an abundance of angry, outraged students. Considering the number of petitions and Facebook posts that started surfacing left and right, this may be the first time in a long time that a majority of this campus agrees on something. Last week, Anthony Rojas, whom I assume is the leader of the new movement #BringGraduationBack, went to the Student Senate meeting and made an appealing argument for why Fuchs should keep graduation intact. For one, I strongly agree with Rojas and others on the matter of graduation and why it should not be changed. As someone who belongs to two different colleges, with this change to graduation I will have to attend three different ceremonies rather than just two. This is inconvenient for my family and I, who deserve to see my name boldly on the screen as I cross the O’Connell Center stage.

Although I do agree with Rojas and others, their outrage does not address the root of this problem. They are forgetting that Fuchs decided to change graduation as a response to inappropriate actions made by a member of his staff this past Spring. Although the mistreatment of students of color has been around for ages, this specific incident occurred in May. A faculty member, whose identity is still hidden and who is still a university employee, thought he had the right to assault black graduates who were celebrating their accomplishments while walking across the stage. All of the petitions and arguments out there have failed to inquire how the university can guarantee that black students will never be assaulted again for celebrating their wonderful accomplishments. All I am asking is for individuals to remember black students and the many injustices against them in their conversations, especially this Thursday. Let’s remember that graduation would not be changed for this upcoming semester had one of UF’s faculty members not put his hands on black students. And let’s not forget that UF was unrankable until black students started attending the university. This is another opportunity for UF to show that we, as black students, matter and they care.

Mackintosh Joachim is a UF women’s studies sophomore.

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