Aloft in the heavens, UF President Kent Fuchs is anointed by the angels with the holiest crown of all: a UF baseball cap.
Behind him, alligators open their mouths in chomping delight. No, this isn’t a dream; it’s Swampy Memes.
Rebecca Ragan, a 20-year-old UF music and statistics junior, founded “UF memes for middle class teens,” a Facebook page, on March 21, 2017.
The page was renamed to “Swampy UF memes for top public teens” a month later.
Eleven admins and one moderator oversee the more than 37,000 page members, many of whom interact with videos, photos and events.
On average, about five to 20 memes are submitted every day, Ragan said. However, the submissions can reach more than 30 depending on the day’s meme-worthiness.
Submissions spiked when University Police was looking for an accused burglar wearing a Spider-Man costume on Halloween.
“I think it’s a way for people to get time-sensitive news,” Ragan said.
The Alligator spoke to three of the creators behind some of the most popular Swampy memes:
Kummer was on hold with Student Financial Affairs for almost an hour and decided to scroll through Twitter to entertain herself. She saw a video of an animated dancing lizard and decided to make a meme.
While waiting, the 21-year-old UF public relations senior recorded the office’s on-hold music and made the video in about 30 minutes. She said the most difficult part of the creation was finding a dancing lizard video that matched the beat of the music.
The video was Kummer’s first meme on the page.
“If I wanted to make one, I wanted to go all out,” Kummer said.
An assignment for Bennouna’s class led to him going viral on Facebook and Twitter.
The 19-year-old UF mechanical engineering sophomore had to make a 30-to-60-second video that could potentially go viral.
While his classmates filmed more serious videos, Bennouna planned eight ideas ranging from interviewing dogs to a kid teaching a class. His final idea was a love song for Fuchs.
“I suck at music,” Bennouna said “I didn’t know what a chorus, a bridge, anything was.”
He borrowed a friend’s ukulele and started writing the song based on “Riptide” by Vance Joy.
Bennouna said when he filmed the last scene in front of the president’s office, he met Steve Orlando, a university spokesperson. Orlando gave Bennouna his business card because and said that he might be able to get Fuchs to retweet it.
Bennouna redownloaded Twitter on his phone for the opportunity. Fuchs retweeted the video on Oct. 24.
Jordan Ashleigh Brown
Jordan Ashleigh Brown started making memes for her friends in the sixth grade on the iFunny app. Now, the 26 memes she created for Swampy Memes have received thousands of reactions on Facebook.
The 20-year-old UF sustainability and the built environment junior said she created the “Preview Staff” meme last summer in her room at 3 a.m. She threw an already-viral video of sorority sisters chanting into Adobe Premiere and added the phrase “UF Preview” on their shirts.
It continues to get reactions during sorority recruitment and Preview.
“It’s cool to be a part of Swampy Memes history, I guess,” Brown said.
But it’s not for the fame or recognition. Brown said she enjoys the community of students above all.
Brown believes the page has influenced campus beyond making people laugh. Students use humor to discuss issues like Student Government spending and on-campus mental health resources.
“It engages people more in a way that’s comical and most of the time very lighthearted,” she said.
Zakaria Bennouna, a 19-year-old UF mechanical engineering sophomore, holds the lyrics to his viral song “When a Gator Loves his President.” Lyrics include: “Kent Kent Fuchs, you’re the one, daddy Fuchs.”