Dance Marathon has been canceled and former presidential primary candidate Andrew Yang will not speak on campus as originally planned. The changes come one day after UF President Kent Fuchs advised students to return home until March 30 due to precautions with coronavirus.
In addition, the Southeastern Conference announced in a press release that SEC competition in all sports will be suspended until March 30.
Fuchs sent the email announcement Wednesday afternoon stating that classes will go fully online beginning on Monday. He also encouraged event organizers to cancel, postpone or hold their events online.
“These are extraordinary and uncertain times,” Fuchs wrote in his email to students. “I share everyone’s concerns and understand how unsettling and disruptive these measures are.”
Alachua County officials have not announced a protocol regarding large events. At a press conference Wednesday, the county director of the Florida Department of Health Paul Myers said community members must decide for themselves whether or not to attend events like Yang’s speaking engagement.
Higher risk populations include older adults and people with chronic illnesses like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“You have to advise your attendees to assess their personal level of risk,” he said.
Here are today’s developments on upcoming events:
Andrew Yang’s speech
Accent Speakers Bureau announced Thursday that it is postponing Andrew Yang’s speaking engagement at the university. A new date has not yet been decided.
There has been no update regarding Dave Portnoy, the founder of the blog Barstool Sports, who is also scheduled to speak at UF on April 1.
Yang is a former Democratic presidential primary candidate who was known for advocating a universal basic income, which is a guaranteed monthly income. Yang was going to be paid $50,000 to speak at UF, according to his contract.
Zach Roberts, 22, said he supported Yang because he brought a fresh perspective to the technological advancement of the nation — something Yang called the “fourth industrial revolution.”
“He’s obviously very smart. That’s something we need at this time in particular,” Roberts said, adding that he believes the current U.S. President Donald Trump is “not so smart.”
The UF business administration senior said he looked forward to voting for Yang and would have liked to see him speak at UF. He said he’s disappointed the event has been postponed but isn’t surprised.
“You kind of knew it was going to happen with everything else that’s been going on,” he said. “Honestly it’s safer, probably for the best.”
Henry Fair, the Accent Speakers Bureau Chairman, referred The Alligator to Accent’s Facebook post announcing the delay of Yang’s speaking engagement and gave no additional comment.
Dance Marathon announced today that their annual event would be canceled, the first in the program’s 26 years at UF.
Other options are being explored to host an alternative event, said Connor Bennett, executive director of Dance Marathon at UF. He said he doesn’t think they will reschedule in the Stephen O’Connell Center because of the size of the event and uncertainty about the progression of the virus.
“We didn’t think it would be healthy, or really responsible, in this time,” Bennett said.
Dance Marathon has been fundraising for a year for its main event: a 26.2 hour fundraising event. Last year, Dance Marathon raised more than $3 million for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
A large portion of the money fundraised for Dance Marathon is donated during the main event and the final push in the week leading up to it, Bennett said. He doesn’t know how significantly fundraising efforts will be impacted by the cancellation, or if that money will be made up elsewhere.
“We’re still going to continue to fundraise and still continue to try our best to bring in as much money as possible,” Bennett said.
TEDxUF, an independently organized TED Talk at UF, announced on their Facebook page they would be postponing its event until the fall semester.
“Our priority is and always will be the well-being of those who create and communicate these impactful, challenging and beautiful ideas,” the statement read.
TEDxUF was originally scheduled to be held on March 15.
Andrew Jensen, the Overall Director of Dance Marathon 2019, rocks out during the Savants of Soul’s performance Saturday night in the O’Connell Center. Dance Marathon lasted for 26.2 hours and raised $3,230,025.23 for children at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network.