Racism at UF

UF announced it was investigating racist comments made by a prospective UF student. 

Editor’s note: This story contains racist and explicit language that may be sensitive for readers.

UF announced on Twitter Monday that a prospective student who made racist remarks on social media will no longer be joining the incoming UF freshman class.

While UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said he could not reveal the student’s identity due to student confidentiality, UF previously announced it would investigate racist remarks from current and prospective students in a statement on Twitter June 3.

“We find the posts to be disturbing, offensive and deeply troubling and we are investigating these situations, gathering facts and determining the next course of action,” the university wrote on Twitter.

When The Alligator asked Orlando Wednesday why the university decided to make a statement, what the investigation will look into or the courses of action the university is considering, he referred them back to UF's statement and declined to comment further.

Since the murder of George Floyd, a number of people have been at the center of discussions among UF students regarding racist posts online.

Liberty Woodley is one. Screenshots of a racist January 2019 Instagram post from Woodley, a 17-year-old high school senior, have received widespread attention online. According to her social media, Woodley committed to attend UF in the Fall.

“I really try so hard not to be a racist person, but I most definitely am, there’s no denying it,” Woodley wrote on her private Instagram account.

In the post, Woodley wrote that two black girls were “ret***ed,” “most definitely crackwh***s,” and people who do “nothing for society.” She also wrote that she wanted to punch them and that being near them gave her “the possibility of losing brain cells.”

When users found out she planned to attend UF, they tagged the UF twitter account, President Kent Fuchs and university admissions, demanding that her acceptance be revoked.

Woodley told The Alligator she has spoken to a university official who told her they have all of the information to proceed with a decision on her admission. She declined to comment further.

Actress Skai Jackson shared the screenshots on Twitter Friday as part of a chain of tweets she’s released aiming to call out racist young people to her more than 542,000 followers. The post about Woodley has now received 9,000 likes and more than 3,000 retweets.

This is not the first time the university has been called out to act against racism. While UF President Kent Fuchs released a video on Twitter May 29 condemning Floyd’s murder, students see the way UF has handled racism in the past as a problem.

In 2017, UF erupted with protests when white supremacist Richard Spencer spoke on campus. 

One year later, UF faced backlash again for its “F” ranking in a University of Southern California Race and Equity Center study on racial representation, which determined that black students make up 6.1 percent of UF’s student population.

UF Student Government also brought Donald Trump Jr. to speak on campus in October 2019, an event that was met with students chanting “Black Lives Matter.”

Justin Parris, a 21-year-old UF health education and behavior Spring 2020 alumnus, said there is no room for racist and prejudiced people at UF.

“We want justice,” Parris said. “If you are a part of the Gator Nation and you're racist and you have any type of hate toward any type of marginalized groups at all, you don't belong at the university at all.”

Parris said he has developed a mantra for dealing with hatred online. If people have the guts to be openly racist, they should have the guts to be exposed, called out and reported for doing so, he said.

“Making comments like that is just ridiculous and it’s so hateful,” Parris said. “Me being a black man, it just brings me back to everything that I experienced regarding racist remarks that are thrown my way, microaggressions that were thrown my way, just all of the above.”

Parris said that while it is hard for others to put themselves in black people’s shoes, they should be open to listening and understanding.

“I can tell you a million times I've been called the N-word,” Parris said. “I can't prove it. The thing is, if a black person reports racism, what business do they have randomly targeting somebody? I just feel like you should believe it.”

Contact Nicole at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @_nrodriguez99

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that though Richard Spencer spoke at UF, he was not invited by the university. The headline has been updated. It is unclear if UF has rescinded the student's acceptance. 

Staff Writer

Nicole Rodriguez is a third-year journalism student at UF. She is currently the University Administration reporter for The Alligator and covers updates and announcements dealing with the UF administration.