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Saturday, December 04, 2021
<p dir="ltr"><span>Purple Pamflet is an Instagram account used to spread awareness on UF’s past.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Purple Pamflet is an Instagram account used to spread awareness on UF’s past.

 

Bienvenido Torres III proudly sports the notorious orange and blue during football games. He even came back to teach at UF after graduating with a bachelor's degree in advertising in 2007.

But learning about UF's homophobic past doesn't sit well with him, he said. 

In an attempt to increase queer representation on campus, which he believes there is not enough of, Torres, a 35-year-old adjunct professor at UF, created the course Drag Race and LGBTQ Communications to explore the relations between the LGBTQ+ community branding with advertising. He also wanted to normalize the idea of LGBTQ+ representation covering different subjects  this allows students to learn about the LGBTQ+ community beyond courses that are often taught only through women's studies, he said. 

Through his class, Grace Ubben, a 22-year-old UF advertising alumna, and Ingrid Wu, a 22-year-old UF advertising alumna created the Purple Pamflet, an Instagram account dedicated to raising awareness about who J.Wayne Reitz was and the Johns Committee. They named it after the original Purple Pamphlet, a booklet created by the Committee to spread anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda.  

The Johns Committee, a committee led by Senator Charley Johns in 1958 that sought out queer students and faculty members in Florida public schools and universities, and former UF President, J. Wayne Reitz, who is infamous for spewing hate speech towards queer and Black individuals at UF is taught in Torres’ class to tie together UF and LGBTQ+ history.

In the past, UF has made national headlines that celebrate its success in becoming a top 7 public university, but behind its triumphant facade, its racist and homophobic history are revealed. 

UF's history was unbeknownst to Ubben and Wu before taking the class and they wanted to help spread this information to UF students and faculty to show how past students and staff were negatively affected by Reitz and the Johns Committee.  According to "Behind Closed Doors," a documentary on the Johns Committee, hundreds of students and professors were expelled because of their sexual preferences. 

Ubben and Wu chose Instagram because they felt it was the most engaging social media platform to showcase their infographics. According to Pew Research, Americans use a range of social media sites and use these platforms to get news and information. 

They also encourage current students to sign a petition that aims to change the name of the Reitz Union to Virgil Hawkins Union in honor of Virgil Hawkins, a Black UF applicant who was denied admittance to UF College of Law because of his race, and who ended up withdrawing his application in exchange for a Supreme Court order desegregating UF's graduate and professional schools, according to the Change.org petition. 

"A quote from Reitz saying, ‘As a matter of fact, I'll be the first to admit that anyone who was a homosexual was a complete aberration,’ and I think that just goes to show that a whole new meaning to the Reitz Union," Ubben said.  

As an LGBTQ+ ally, Ubben's goal was to increase community consciousness on the concept that UF currently still has a building named after someone involved in an LGBTQ+ witch hunt. She added that in no way was the Instagram page created to attack or hurt UF, but rather to encourage UF to recognize and apologize to the LGBTQ+ community for its collaboration with the Johns Committee. 

Wu is the mind behind Purple Pamflet’s graphics. Through the power of visual storytelling combined with Wu's background in graphic design illustration, she and Ubben were able to amplify the stories and information through their Instagram page that has amassed over 500 followers in less than three months, Wu said. 

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Despite no longer attending UF, Wu and Ubben hope to expand their account with information that includes other Florida universities like FSU and USF in the future. Ultimately, they are hopeful that not only will UF issue an apology but that the state of Florida will also issue a bill that addresses and apologizes for the injustices caused by the committee. 

"UF should really push forward, and not just be silent, because their silence is the problem," Wu said. 

Purple Pamflet is an Instagram account used to spread awareness on UF’s past.

 

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