(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Last week, more than a hundred students and alumni of the University of Florida (UF) marched through their campus in an outrage. The great injustice they were rallying against was a proposed change to campus housing.
Staff members of the university’s “Multicultural and Diversity Affairs” department want to merge the UF Institute of Black Culture with the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, or as commonly referred to La Casita. The proposition was made in part of the college’s impending revamp of the campus buildings.
According to the UF student newspaper the Alligator, procedures to redevelop the two organization’s localities began in spring of last year, due to mold, termites, moisture, and structural damage.
Evidently, the paramount fear students carry is that combining the two institutes would subsequently dilute the racial integrity embedded in both centers. They’re not concerned, however, about living in rundown dormitories.
While neither race or ethnicity is striving for racial or social solidarity on a broad scale, the students’ demand is ethnic seclusion. Apparently, UF is more than willing to promulgate this request.
The solution for racial antagonism on college campuses, let alone taxpayer-funded public schools, should not involve designating school buildings to specific races and ethnicities, however UF is not the only campus to do just that. Cal State L.A. and the University of Colorado Boulder offer living arrangements specifically and only for black students at their campuses.
The staff at UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs (MCDA), along with a committee leading the renovations on campus, have given consideration to a “U” shape building design, amalgamating the two conjoined institutes.
The “U” shaped building plan has fallen under immense scrutiny, though. According to the student newspaper, students in retaliation of the proposal launched a page on Facebook known as ”No La IBCita” and commenced a “teach-in” educating students on the histories of the two institutes.
During the teach-in, students also explained why it so paramount to “keep the buildings separate.”
The march was about half a mile; it began on the university’s Turlington Plaza and ended at the J. Wayne Reitz Union on Museum Road. Chants included, “Mama mama can’t you see what UF has done to me?” and “When brown faces are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
About 40 students flounced into the Reitz Union student center, where a publicly-held meeting among MCDA staff and advisory members was taking place. The students presented a petition comprising close to a thousand signatures in defense of keeping the buildings separate.
“We are here because we have tried every other way that we possibly know how to get the attention of the administration and MCDA to hear our voices and we felt like we have not been heard. And so today is a protest for our voices to be amplified and for our voices to be heard by the people who need to hear them,” stated by Courtney Ricketts, one of the UF protesters who spoke to WUFT News.
Ironically, the impending shared building space between the two groups who wish to remain separate, is forcing the two groups to work together.
One of the student members of the advisory committee overseeing the remodeling, Christopher Wilde, expressed consolation when the students impeded the conference.
“It was an amazing moment. It was solidarity again between the communities, and it was powerful,” Wilden stated.
Unbeknownst to Wilden and the rest of the advisory board, consensus among individuals is not a vindication for disassociation. The two institutes are essentially uniting for disunity.
The MCDA stated that the project will face monetary obstacles, with a $5.3 million budget utilized towards the building renovations. According to Wilde, a decision for the architectural component of the building will be made by July 19th.