Editor’s Note: The content of this letter discusses sexual assault.
UF Student Body President Michael Murphy’s letter to the editor is disrespectful. Not only is he disrespectful to the organizers of the protest by libeling us through false statements, such as stating we said the only way to improve campus safety is through the addition of blue lights, but he is also disrespectful to the nearly 2,000 students that have responded to this event.
President Murphy reported that installing a blue light on Fraternity Row would be a “tremendous waste of student fees,” and mentioned universities far from our own that are no longer using blue light technology.
However, our neighbor universities, UCF and FSU, are still implementing blue light use on their campus. As are we; if you were unaware, UF recently added a blue light next to Graham Hall.
While this technology is being utilized on UF’s campus, there is no excuse for Fraternity Row to remain without it. Especially when, at UF Preview, Blue lights are sold as a safety perk to new students, who are told they can be found everywhere on UF’s campus.
President Murphy mentioned the GATORSAFE app, a “mobile blue light.” GATORSAFE is a great idea, until your phone dies or you do not have service. If you are ever in a scenario where you cannot use your phone, you cannot use GATORSAFE. Emergency protection regardless of accessibility to a mobile phone is necessary for all areas of campus. Fraternity Row is no exception and never should have been.
Murphy also said that the implementation of blue lights on Fraternity Row would cost $22,000 of “your student fees.” The Student Government banquet alone cost upwards of $20,000 this past Spring. The Student Government banquet was paid for using external revenue — the blue lights can be paid for in the same way.
By implying this can only be paid for using student fees, Murphy is lying in an attempt to discourage protesters from speaking out.
Murphy stated that our rhetoric is worsening campus safety. We are as confused by this statement as you are. It seems ironic that as he wrote an entire letter condemning the installation of a blue light, he managed to include a statement about those organizing a protest for safety worsening what they have aimed to protect.
Murphy also stated that us, the organizers, have been “painting campus Greek Life as rife with sexual assault” and should instead focus on the GATORSAFE app.
By reaching out to the Panhellenic Council, every Panhellenic delegate and the Inter-Fraternity Council, we have taken every step to include campus Greek Life in this cause and not take an adversarial approach.
However, there is no need for us to paint a picture, as data and statistics has given us a clear one already. As stated in a column in The Alligator on sexual assault at UF in 2017, “A survey administered to UF students in 2014 revealed 1-5 female undergraduates experienced sexual assault since entering college, compared to 1-25 men. Sorority-affiliated women are assaulted at four times the rate of their non-sorority peers, and of the ten women I interviewed, nine were raped by fraternity men — from nine different fraternities.”
Murphy has chosen to dilute our message with accusatory statements and has consequently downgraded the severity of the safety risk that is left unaddressed on Fraternity Row.
Murphy has given his stance — he is actively against installing a blue light on Fraternity Row. I am not sure why, as the Student Body president of a Top 7 institution, he is so opposed to adding safety measures to this area of campus. However, I and the other organizers have already been in contact with the University Police regarding the installation of blue lights on Fraternity Row, and will continue to follow up with them for immediate action after the protest.
Lastly, Murphy mentioned that “protesters should not let Student Government election season get the best of them.” I encourage you, fellow protesters, to look into the public Senate meeting minutes that allow you to see who voted for and against the Blue Light Bill in April. This way, you can avoid letting election season get the best of you, as Murphy said, and instead use it to your advantage to elect representatives that stand for what you believe in.
It is a shame that Murphy has taken a stance that could discourage protestors from participating in this cause.
Murphy, who holds the highest position in SG and sits on the UF Board of Trustees, clearly has not used his voice up until this point to speak out on this matter for the UF Students he represents.
However, if he will not fight for your safety, we will. Inaction on behalf of those in power, including Murphy, is what led us here in the first place.
We look forward to marching with you all tomorrow.
Emily Hyden is a UF international studies junior.