Although being ranked seventh among the top U.S. public colleges and universities is an achievement we can be proud of, it should not overshadow the dire issues at UF.
#1: UF lacks diversity.
USC recently conducted a study on race equity in public schools; UF received an F for representation equity, which validated many students’ feelings of a lack of representation. Shaynah Boulay, a 19-year-old electrical engineering sophomore and a member of Black Student Union and other minority organizations, says she “feels as if part of the masses’ voice isn’t being heard or represented, and the choices are made without regard for some groups.” Hosting Donald Trump Jr., a white nationalist rally, and the appearance of a swastika display and a noose on campus aren’t things that foster inclusion.
#2: UF lacks funds for student assemblies.
Multicultural student organizations were hit with disheartening news this fall when they discovered that Student Government didn’t have enough money to fund student assemblies. This funding issue was an effect of a $66,000 lawsuit against UF by the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The resulting reallocation of funds left minority organizations like the Asian American Student Union, Black Student Union and Pride Student Union struggling to fund their first assemblies of the semester.
#3: UF uses prison slave labor.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, but slavery is not illegal when an individual is incarcerated. Kevin Rashid Johnson, who is currently serving a life sentence in Virginia, states, “Anybody convicted of a crime after 1865 could be leased out by the state to private corporations who would extract their labor for little or no pay.” UF’s current contract with the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) uses prison labor to farm agriculture.
#4: UF does little for sexual assault cases.
This semester, there have been three publicized sexual assault cases that occurred on campus. Despite the frequent occurrence of campus sexual assault, UF has not taken further action outside of their current protocol. Recently, about 200 students protested for the installment of blue lights allowing quick contact with law enforcement on Fraternity Row. Members of SG initially resisted, saying it was “a tremendous waste of student fees.” Only after weeks did UF agree to install four blue lights on Frat Row.
#5: UF SG is selfish and inconsiderate.
Zachariah Chou previously wrote about SG’s wasteful allocations of student fees, such as $12,410 spent on ponchos. In October, SG paid Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle $50,000 in student fees to speak at UF. Many students called for the resignation of Student Body President Michael Murphy, citing his alleged misuse of student funds and his father’s ties to the Trump campaign as conflicts of interest.
#6: UF graduation is a display of racial inequality.
During the Spring 2018 commencement ceremony, black students were celebrating while they walked — only to be yanked off the stage by officials. In response to the resulting controversy, UF began holding individual ceremonies for students’ respective colleges in addition to a university-wide ceremony. Students then announced a boycott for the university-wide ceremony because “the new graduation format disguises UF’s racial tensions.” Only about one third of the graduating class showed up to the Spring 2019 university-wide commencement ceremony.
#7: UF invests in fossil fuel companies.
UF funds fossil fuel emissions that contribute to climate change. As a top research institution, we are contradicting our very own mission of progress and responsibility by investing in such companies.
As Gators, we should not recognize our achievements and ignore all of our failures. Sign petitions, participate in rallies — use your voice and let it be heard. Raise awareness of these issues and create a sense of urgency. UF needs to step up and make changes so we can really brag about how great it is to be a Florida Gator.
Stephanie Chang is a UF business sophomore