Last Friday, more than a hundred students at the University of Florida (UF) congregated on campus for a newly revamped orientation program. This peculiar induction, however, was only intended for one specific demographic attending the Gainesville institution: black students.
This program is known as “PAACT,” which stands for Pledging to Advance Academic Capacity Together. According to The Alligator, the program is designed “to prepare black students for their UF experience.” This program was introduced first in 1998, but dissipated in 2010 for unspecified reasons.
The program, as stated by UF student Ashley Marceus, was an opportunity for her and other black students on campus “to really be ourselves.” She added that “When we swag surfed, it was so symbolic, it epitomized us together as a family unit.”
According to article, swag surfing is an activity in “which students interlocked their arms and swayed from side to side.” The black-only orientation program provides students with “mentors to discuss academic resources, involvement opportunities and the social scene.”
According to the publication, UF executive director of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs Will Atkins was the the individual responsible for reviving the program after seven years of inactivity.
Atkins also spoke on relieving some of the evidently life-threatening hardships associated with being a black student at UF.
“Many students shared they were proud to be Gators, but part of the reason they were proud to be Gators was because they were surviving the Gator experience,” said Atkins.
It is unclear how implementing a secluded, race-specific orientation promotes inclusivity on a campus with over 54,000 students.
UF Freshman and theatre major Faith Stewart-Mason spoke on her experience with the program.
“It just gave us more resources than we would at regular preview, because it was specifically for us,” adding, “It gives black students a place to be at UF.”
Applied to any other race, it’s unlikely this program would last even a few seconds on campus.