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Saturday, December 02, 2023

Top 5 banner thieves strike again

14 of the 19 “No. 5” ranking banners have been stolen off UF lamp posts

A top 5 banner is seen on Buckman Drive on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.
A top 5 banner is seen on Buckman Drive on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Despite UF keeping its No. 5 spot in the U.S. News & World Report public university rankings, a reprint of the “Top Five” banners might be necessary.

Nineteen banners boasting UF’s No. 5 status were hung on lamp posts around campus Sept. 12. By the next day, 14 of them had disappeared, said Mark Helms, assistant vice president of facilities services.

“Everybody loves them,” Helms said. “We weren’t expecting it to take off so quickly this year.”

The trend of stealing lamp post banners is hardly new. Each year UF climbs the rankings, students climb the lamp posts to claim their new dorm decorations. In 2021, 40 of 75 banners were reported stolen from across campus within a month of UF breaking into the top five, causing a loss of almost $3000. 

Helms believes pride for the No. 5 position drives students’ desires to take the banners, he said.

Rebecca Arias, a 29-year-old plant science senior, wishes students wouldn’t steal the banners.

“It’s kind of like a cultural thing at this point,” Arias said. “It’s a little funny. But they probably should stop doing it.” 

The main concern of UF administration is student safety, Helms said. Campus lamp posts contain high voltages of electricity, he said, and they are capped by a heavy glass acorn, both of which pose a risk to students. Nobody has gotten injured yet as of Sept. 16.

“We’re all excited about being top five,” Helms said. “We just don’t want anybody to get hurt.”

The university has stopped hanging banners for the time being and will only resume doing so once the UF bookstore offers the banners, along with other No. 5 merchandise, for sale. The release date hasn’t been announced yet.

“The intent here is not to hammer anybody for their excitement, but to try to curb it,” Helms said.

Contact Alissa at Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.

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Alissa Gary

Alissa Gary is a second-year journalism major who's covering K-12 education for The Alligator. She has previously reported on student government and university administration.  Aside from writing, she likes to take care of her plants and play (and usually win) the New York Times sudoku puzzle.

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