The University of Florida has issued an apology after several Black students were seen getting manhandled for celebrating on stage during their graduation ceremony this weekend.
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School president W. Kent Fuchs lamented the “inappropriately aggressive” behavior toward the grads at the Saturday event, images of which circulated around social media.
“I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved,” he said Sunday. “The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies, and we will work to make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation.”
Students reportedly jumped and danced after getting their diplomas from the Gainesville school, which was said to be a common rite of passage in some fraternities and sororities, only to be shoved by an usher moving them away.One of those students was Oliver Telusma, who told the Gainesville Sun he was grabbed under the armpit as he began to dance.
“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 told the newspaper. “It was just really uncalled for, especially for anyone not martially trained to do that.”
The 21-year-old political science graduate — who has his eyes set on law school — argued that the University of Florida has a past of racial bias.
“It’s a situation where time and time again the university has made black bodies feel unsafe,” he said to the Gainesville Sun.