University Usher Gets Physical With Grads

University Usher Gets Physical With Grads
Susan Dutca-Lovell
Photo credit: Miami Herald

The University of Florida is issuing apologies for the way some black students were handled during a recent commencement ceremony. While doing some short dances or jumps on stage upon receiving their diplomas, some say that a white usher was "inappropriately aggressive" when rushing the graduates across the stage, suggesting that he was "motivated by race because the students were black."

The university's President, Kent Fuchs issued an apology saying, "I want to personally apologize for us doing that on behalf of myself and also the University of Florida." Fuchs also "personally called each of the students impacted to convey his apology and to let them know that the practice of physically interfering with students' celebrations to rush them across the stage has been stopped." However, the students who were quickly ushered offstage claim that Fuchs was "on stage at the time of the incident and did nothing to stop the usher from ruining their milestone moment."

"In general, I don't think I've ever been handled in that manner, not even by my parents," claimed one female student who was rushed off stage. Another male student also stated that "it was definitely contingent on your race...other white students who were dancing were not perceived as a threat." According to social media, at least one white student was also seen being pushed.

Fuchs stated that the "hands-on removal process would be banned from future ceremonies" so as to "make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation."

Strolling, according to several students, "is a cultural tradition in historically black fraternities and sororities" that include "symbolic gestures of joy" and has been done for years. "To stroll at graduation at a historically white institution where black students weren't allowed for a long, long time is a huge accomplishment," said one UF graduate. "We deserve that celebration."

In your opinion, were the students' actions justified and/or appropriate in this situation? Why or why not? Leave your thoughtful comments below to begin a discussion.

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