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Saturday, May 18, 2024

When Kitan Adeniji went to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for UF’s Institute of Black Culture Saturday afternoon, she felt that the university was listening to black students for a change.

Hours before though, that wasn't the case.

She sat in a SNAP van early that morning while she and her friends were called the N-word a white male student. She said the progress was a facade.

SNAP, or Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol, is a free transportation service for UF students. Vans, mostly driven by students, transport students around campus, similar to an Uber. SNAP, which is under UF Transportation and Parking Services, is funded using student fees given to UF Student Government.

“[UF’s] diversity aspect is for show, and they’re not owning in on the problems,” Adeniji said.

Adeniji, an 18-year-old UF business administration freshman, and six of her friends, who are also students, were returning to their dorms at about 2 a.m. Saturday when two white male students interrupted their conversation. 

One said “Go to sleep, n****s,” and muttered under his breath that he would “rock them,” Adeniji said. The other said things under his breath that Adeniji and her friends could not make out, she said.

After capturing the aftermath on video, Adeniji posted it on Twitter, hoping someone would be held responsible. She said she had seen activism before where universities and companies were held responsible due to public pressure, not because they truly cared. She said if she complained directly to UF, nothing would change.

“It would be swept under the rug,” she said. “Nothing would be done.”

Scott Fox, senior director of TAPS, said he could not comment because TAPS had not yet received enough context. 

“We continue to investigate the incident but do not have complete information,” he wrote in an email. 

The first point in the SNAP rider code of conduct is to treat passengers and employees with “courtesy and respect at all times,” according to the TAPS website.

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Drivers determine what actions violate policies, and those found guilty may be asked to leave the van, according to the TAPS website. Adeniji said the driver tried to deescalate the situation but did not move forward with any disciplinary action. 

The student in question defended himself by claiming that he had been saying it his whole life and had the “n-word pass,” Adeniji said.

“Maybe he was thinking it was a friendly thing to say, but it wasn’t,” she said. “He’s white, and we’re black.”

To her and other black students, nothing excuses the students’ actions and the hundreds of microaggressions they face every day at a PWI, or predominantly white institution, she said. About 7 percent of UF students are black, according to 2018 enrollment data.

“It just shows white fragility,” Adeniji said. “To him, since it’s a one-time thing, it’s just a mistake. If black people make one mistake, it follows the entire black community.”

Correction: The article was updated to reflect the Institute if Black Culture opened Saturday. The Alligator previously reported different.

Update: Adeniji clarified after publication that only one of the male students said the slurs 

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