Anthony Rojas doesn’t want UF students to attend their graduation.
On Friday afternoon, Rojas, a UF political science master’s student, and Mackintosh Joachim, president of the UF chapter of the NAACP, announced a boycott of the university-wide graduation ceremony on May 4 in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Rojas said the new graduation format disguises UF’s racial tensions.
“If low attendance is the only way they’re going to listen, then that’s what we’re going to give them,” said Rojas, 23. “We’re going to make sure they hear us loud and clear.”
The graduation format changed after Spring 2018 when at least three black students were rushed off the stage by a marshal during the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Starting in Fall 2018, graduates were recognized individually by their respective colleges and then at a collective ceremony in the stadium. About 1,100 students attended the university-wide ceremony out of the about 3,600 graduating students.
The Fall 2018 ceremony cost about $360,000 in university funds. The Spring 2018 ceremony, which followed the previous procedure, cost about $231,000.
There is not a cost estimate for the Spring 2019 ceremony, said Steve Orlando, university spokesperson.
Orlando said the university is expecting about 7,000 graduates to attend the university-wide ceremony based on regalia orders.
Orlando said students are entitled to respond in their own ways, but the change happened naturally.
“Commencement at UF has changed so many times over the years,” Orlando said. “It’s a dynamic ceremony.”
Anthony Rojas, a 23-year-old UF political science master’s student, and Mackintosh Joachim, president of the UF chapter of the NAACP, announced a boycott of the university-wide commencement ceremony on Friday afternoon outside Tigert Hall.