Student Body President Trevor Pope issued an executive order Sunday in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white ex-Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The order, which he issued using his powers as president, will go into effect immediately. It condemns racially-charged incidents happening around the nation, apologizes for racially-charged incidents on campus and urges students to learn about bias, prejudice and institutional racism. Pope hopes the plan will address racial issues on campus, he said.
The order directs Student Body Vice President Lauredan Official and the UF Student Government Diversity and Programming Committee, which Official leads, to meet and discuss ways to address race-based issues at UF, Pope wrote in an email to The Alligator. He did not answer questions asking what race-based issues he aims to resolve.
The Diversity and Programming Committee also includes SG leaders like the Student Body president and treasurer, the Senate president and leaders in student organizations like Black Student Union and Hispanic Student Association.
The Diversity and Programming Committee will meet each semester, starting this Summer, Official wrote in an email to The Alligator. The committee is in the process of selecting a date for the meeting now.
The executive order also requests that UF administration improve their Diversity Action Plan, he wrote in the email. The 2011 plan directed UF officials to work towards diversity-increasing goals, such as breaking down stereotypes and increasing multicultural competency.
Official wrote that he wants students to review the Decade Ahead Plan, which was created by UF President Kent Fuchs and a task force of students and faculty in 2015 to set goals of increasing diversity and inclusivity on campus during the meeting planned for this Summer.
“The first meeting should set a solid base on the committee's work and goals for the school year ahead of us,” Official wrote.
This order comes after a March for our Freedom protest in Gainesville Saturday, where more than 1,000 people marched from Depot Park to Bo Diddley plaza to protest Floyd’s death. Demonstrations have continued.
Racist incidents have occurred on campus in the past. In a Senate meeting in Spring, hackers “Zoom bombed” a Senate meeting and showed images of swastikas and wrote racial slurs. A white male student called several students were called the N-word in a Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol van shortly before the reopening of the Institute of Black Culture in November.
“Words on social media fall short, and it’s our community’s leaders who are the ones who are immediately able to make tangible change,” Pope wrote. “My influence is limited to the UF community, so I felt charged to ensure our sphere is doing the best job we can to address racial issues.”