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University Usher Gets Physical With Grads


May 8, 2018 10:31 AM
by 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.
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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MR  on  5/20/2018 9:35:04 AM commented:

Whether it was racially motivated or not, it's completely inappropriate to shove students off the stage at a graduation ceremony while they're taking a moment to rejoice in their achievement— it not only ruins the mood but sends the message that the university doesn't respect its students.

Cm  on  5/18/2018 4:42:02 PM commented:

@KD by definition that is exactly what lacking a sense of decorum is. I'm not saying the graduates shouldn't be ecstatic. They should be. They deserve to be, and there is a time and place for joyous celebration. I just don't believe that center stage of graduation ceremonies qualifies as either. Take that back to the frat houses where it belongs. That having been said, the usher and whoever allowed that level of assertiveness should be fired. That's just ridiculous.

KD  on  5/10/2018 5:25:51 PM commented:

@neal m: your comment comes off as very rude and bigoted. These graduates have worked hard for four (or more) years to be able to walk across that stage. They were happy and just because they did a celebratory dance, or stroll, does not mean they lack “decorum and dignity.”

JT  on  5/9/2018 2:53:38 PM commented:

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." Please update this story and correct this statement. New video footage has been released showing that same usher forced several non-black students off the stage for dancing. This is NOT a race issue. https://www.facebook.com/fox11la/videos/10156853070677573/

ML  on  5/9/2018 2:19:54 PM commented:

Just STOP! My son just graduated from his university & yes, there were a few Black male graduates performing their celebration dance before they received their diploma on stage! No one knows what the protocol was directed to the University of Fla graduates while on stage, STOP trying to ALWAYS making everything racist!!!! The University gave an apology.... move on!

Bill P.  on  5/9/2018 1:37:13 PM commented:

I don't see the issue of dancing. When I walked I gave praise to the Lord, Jesus. Did they stop all students? If so, this is a control issue not a race issue.

neal m  on  5/9/2018 12:28:38 PM commented:

let them dance if they must. If an education has not given them a sense of decorum and dignity by now then it might be too late to have expectations of behavior.

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