Wednesday, May 9, 2018

University of Florida 2018 Ceremony

On May 2018 during a graduation ceremony at University of Florida, there was an unfortunate incident that occurred.  Media footage surfaced of a UF faculty member forcefully "grabbing" students off stage who were celebrating their graduation.  The short two minute clips circulating online show students dancing across the stage, and then being forced aggressively to move along.  A YouTube video posted by, "Consider Culture" urged viewers to analyze all aspects of the incident before coming to a conclusion. Chi Brown suggest that at times the media can twist the truth to stir up viewers just to create a bigger storyline for ratings.  I personally agree with Mr. Brown. In order to make a clear unbiased decision you must know the full story, not just have clippings of the truth.
I decided to take several hours out of my day to review the entire ceremony that took place at the University of Florida graduation.  As I watched the footage I came to the understanding that the incident that occurred involving one "unknown" faculty member appeared to be more about deterring a disturbance rather than targeting students because of their race.  I personally witnessed several students from diverse cultural backgrounds showcase their greek symbols and dance in celebration without being bothered. I also noticed several students from various racial backgrounds being "approached" to move on because they were taking too much time on stage. Some students received a soft pat on the arm or shoulder as a warning gesture. It appeared there was about a three-second limit to be on the platform, and then after that, you had to continue on so that the next person could be recognized.
As a college student myself I understand the importance of a graduation ceremony, and I felt an emotional connection to all the students I watched on stage.  I was moved by every smile and touched by each unique celebratory display. I viewed the footage without bias looking at each student as an individual disregarding their skin color.  The scholars walking across the stage had one thing in common they were all graduates who had worked diligently to obtain not only a degree but an accreditation that showcased their knowledge and hard work.  
From one perspective I can understand a graduation ceremony needs to have some type of structure due to time constraints, and students should have respect for their fellow classmates on stage, however, I do not condone on any level the use of aggressive force towards another human-being unless its a case of self-defense.  I can understand a pat on the shoulder or a verbal warning to "move along" that would be professionally acceptable, but the two arm bear hug that one student received, and the physical snatch that another student experienced was completely out of line. It's important to acknowledge the faculty in charge of ushering the students across the stage changed several times throughout the ceremony, and the assault that occurred was done by one individual.  At the end of the day, this story, in my opinion, was "not" about race but rather about behavior unbefitting of "one" specific faculty member. The media made it about race because the students who were assaulted happened to be black.
Work Cited:
Ceremony Video: Link

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