opinion

On Friday, UF student affairs interim vice president Win Phillips sent an email to students addressing two incidents he said were related to racism and anti-Semitisim, stating UF “places the highest value on creating a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment.” 

If this statement was any further from the truth, it would be across the Pacific telling us the Chinese government and citizens of Hong Kong are getting along just fine.

Clearly, they’re not, and it’s evident the last thing UF cares about is creating an inclusive environment. 

UF does not value diversity, it values its reputation. In terms of racial advancement, everything had to be fought for by the Student Body, and it’s been a slow process. The statement released by vice president Phillips not only undermines this struggle but also overlooks the current issues the university faces today. 

If diversity was really a top priority, we would do more to improve diversity on campus. Yet, when the University of Southern California released a study on race and equity in 2018, UF received an F on race equity. Only 6.1 percent of students at UF are black despite 21.5 percent of Florida residents aged 18 to 24 being black.

At least the university got a B for its ratio of black faculty members to students, but with both being in such low amounts, that’s anything but impressive. 

The Student Body clearly needs more cultural representation. Luckily, people are actually working toward that. On Nov. 17, both the Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, also known as La Casita, were finally reopened after their demolition in 2017. The two buildings provide a safe space for minority UF students and alumni. Of course, these buildings had to be fought for too. From the creation of the two buildings to ensuring that there were still two buildings after their reconstruction, UF minority students had to fight to keep their cultures in existence on campus. 

Although we appreciate UF Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, individual cultures should not be grouped together just because they are part of a minority group. We have all suffered, but in different ways, and that needs to be respected. 

Black traditions aren’t even respected at UF. In Spring 2018, black students were aggressively rushed off the stage of the commencement ceremony for performing traditional dances from their respective fraternities and sororities. 

What was UF’s response to this?They put the marshall on paid administrative leave and gave each college its own ceremony.

It seems like the university doesn’t really know what they’re doing regarding racial tensions. Phillips thought it was OK to compare an Israel Defense Force soldier who does not have proof of signs calling him a Nazi to a black student who provided evidence of being called an n***** — right before the IBC opening ceremony. It’s sad to say the progress happening at UF is just for show, but the leaders at UF have a history of only doing things if it makes them look good.

Thank you for your well-written letter, vice president Phillips, but next time you should leave the problem solving to the individuals who are actually trying to make a change.

The Editorial Board consists of Zora Viel, Opinions Editor; Amanda Rosa, Editor-in Chief; Kelly Hayes, Digital Managing Editor; and Tranelle Maner, Engagement Managing Editor.