The College of Florida is ending its “gator bait” cheer at soccer video games and different sports activities occasions as a result of of its racial connotations, the college’s president introduced Thursday in a letter making a number of different related adjustments on campus.
Florida president Kent Fuchs mentioned in a letter to the college’s college, college students, and employees that the cheer has a “horrific historic racist imagery” involving African American individuals, particularly kids, getting used as bait for alligators.
“Accordingly, college athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer,” Fuchs wrote.
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The college’s sports activities groups within the Southeastern Convention are nicknamed the Gators, for the ever-present Florida reptile. Up to now, the college’s band would strike up a “gator bait” tune and followers would reply with their arms doing a chomping movement whereas shouting the slogan.
The hyperlink to racism is borne out by information articles in years previous. For instance, in 1923, Time Journal printed a narrative about how “colored babies were being used for alligator bait” in Chipley, Florida.
“The infants are allowed to play in the shallow water while expert riflemen watch from concealment nearby,” the article said. “When a saurian (alligator) approaches this prey, he is shot by the riflemen.” The Chipley Chamber of Commerce responded to the Time article by calling it a “silly lie, false and absurd.”
The letter from Fuchs outlined a quantity of different steps the college in Gainesville, Florida, is taking over racial points following the loss of life of George Floyd by the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd’s loss of life has sparked nationwide protests targeted on police brutality in opposition to African Individuals.
Amongst different issues, Fuchs mentioned the college would require college students, college, and employees to be skilled on “racism, inclusion and bias” and also will carry a brand new give attention to the African American expertise within the upcoming tutorial yr.
The College of Florida, the state’s largest with about 52,000 college students, is predicted to reopen within the fall semester with restrictions associated to the coronavirus outbreak.
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In his letter, Fuchs mentioned the college will look right into a quantity of different race-related subjects. These embrace one activity pressure to doc the college’s historical past concerning race and ethnicity, and a second activity pressure to look at the explanations behind honorary namings on campus.
“I am personally committed to removing any monuments or namings that UF can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders,” Fuchs wrote.
Fuchs mentioned that he’s ending the college’s observe of utilizing jail and jail inmates as farm labor in some of its agricultural applications. He additionally mentioned the college will redouble its efforts to recruit and retain African American college students, college, and employees.
“It is past time for UF to commit and engage in this challenging, uncomfortable, transformational work,” Fuchs wrote within the letter. “We know that we cannot undo lifetimes of injustice and racism, but we believe we can make progress — in education, in advancing truth, reconciliation and justice, and in anti-racism, equality and working to eradicate inequities.”