White Faculty Member Caught On Camera Shoving Black Students Off Stage

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“I had just started ... and he picked me up and turned me around, which I thought was kind of embarrassing and degrading to be handled in that manner.”

 

The University of Florida has drawn widespread criticism after allegedly manhandling multiple students – most of them African-American – during the annual graduation ceremony.

Graduation day is a milestone in people's lives; a day that marks both a culmination and commencement of two important journeys. But, unfortunately, an unidentified UF college graduation marshal didn’t even let some students rejoice that special, once in a lifetime, moment.

As students were called to receive their diplomas, some of them attempted to dance while walking across the stage as they were projected on the big screen. However, their celebration was put to an unceremonious end when a faculty member started to forcibly yank students off the jumbo Tron camera’s view.

Footage of the incident shows the faculty member, who is white, was particularly aggressive towards black graduates.

Predictably, the manhandling was met by boos from the crowd. Soon, the word of the college employee's incivility spread on social media, sparking outrage amongst alumni, parents and current students.

As the videos spread, commentators condemned the aggressive behavior of the commencement protocol. Others claimed the staff member was only aggressive with African-American and other minority students.

 

 

 

 

It appears the job of the faculty member was to make sure students walked across the stage in an order but he resorted to aggressively grabbing and shoving graduates, which was completely unnecessary.

 

 

 

 

 

The university’s president took notice of the episode and issued an apology on Twitter.

 

 

He followed up with another tweet saying, "The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies."

 

Students of the college recounted the event, which was supposed to be a day of joy and celebration but ended up to be distressful for many.

"I feel like you waited so long, you paid so much money, you should be allowed to do what you want and be able to express yourself,"  said college student Laura Sanchez. 

Twenty two-year-old Christopher Garcia-Wilde, another student, witnessed the usher’s disrespectful behavior.

“Both of my friends wanted to celebrate by strolling, which is a cultural tradition in historically black fraternities and sororities,” he said. ”.... It’s a tradition to stroll at graduation if you choose to, and people have been doing this for years.”

“I was actually too afraid because I saw him shove other people,” he added. “But my two friends who graduated with me really wanted to do it, so they tried. They both were pushed and one of them got an entire bear hug.”

Wilde, though, clearly offended, was not really surprised by the usher’s behavior.

“It kind of goes with the pattern that the university has of how they treat minorities, especially black students,” he said.

Oliver Telusma, a 21-year-old UF student, recalled his encounter with the man who unceremoniously rushed him off the stage while he was receiving his bachelor’s in political science.

“I had just started ... and he picked me up and turned me around, which I thought was kind of embarrassing and degrading to be handled in that manner,” he said. “It was just really uncalled for, especially for anyone not martially trained to do that.”

Telusma was too affected by the shocking incident to give the institution any benefit of doubt that the behavior wasn’t racially motivated.

“It’s a situation where time and time again the university has made black bodies feel unsafe.”

University representatives have ensured the institute is looking into the incident but the damage, judging by the ensuing outrage, has been done.

Many believe if the university wanted to expedite the ceremony, it would have made much more sense to shorten the speeches of officials instead of placing an usher on the stage who not only didn’t give graduating students enough time to celebrate but also singled out people of color.

Banner Image Credits:  Pixabay

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