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UF discontinues “Gator Bait” cheer, among other measures announced by President Fuchs

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs has released “Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism,” a statement announcing UF’s plans to “address racism and inequality.”

In the category of “Education, research, and community engagement,” Fuchs lists initiatives such as “training of all current and new students, faculty, and staff on racism, inclusion, and bias”; grants to faculty “on topics of equity, justice and reconciliation”; speakers on “the Black experience, racism and inequity”; Town Hall meetings; and a day of community service in the spring semester, “guided by local leaders.”

The category of “History, symbolism, and demonstrating behaviors consistent with our values” includes this item: “While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase. Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”

Other items in that section include a task force to “document the history of UF in relationship to race and ethnicity,” a task force to review policies for naming buildings and reviewing all historical namings, removing any monuments “that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders,” and ending the use of prison and jail inmates in UF’s agricultural operations.

In the section titled “Representation, inclusion, opportunity, and accountability,” Fuchs states that UF will work with the Gainesville and UF Police Departments to review policies and “institute needed reforms.” He pledges to intensify the university’s efforts to recruit, support, and retain students, faculty, and employees of color, “particularly Black students, faculty, and staff.” He also pledges to support “local small businesses and vendor diversity” and work with East Gainesville community leaders.

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