The University of Florida is putting an end to its “gator bait” joy during football games and other sporting events because of its racial overtones, the school, the president announced Thursday in a letter to make several other similar changes on campus.
In Florida, President Kent Fuchs, said in a letter to faculty, students and staff, that Joy is a “horrific historic racist image” involving African American people, especially children, is used as bait for alligators.
“As a result, the athletics college and the Gator Band cease the use of joy,” Fuchs wrote.
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The university sports teams in the Southeast Conference are nicknamed the Alligators, the ubiquitous Florida reptile. In the past, the school of the strike band in place of a “gator bait” tune and the fans responded with their arms making a starting movement while shouting the slogan.
The link to racism is corroborated by press articles in the past years. For example, in 1923, Time Magazine published an article on how “colored babies were used for alligator bait” in Chipley, Florida.
“Children are allowed to play in shallow water while expert rifles show proximity concealment,” the article said. “When a saurian (alligator) approaches this prey, it is shot down by the skirmishers.” The Chamber of Commerce Chipley responded both to the article, calling it “a stupid, false and absurd lie.”
Fuchs’ letter pointed out a number of other steps the University of Gainesville, Florida is taking on race issues following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide demonstrations of police brutality against African Americans.
Among other things, Fuchs, said the university, students, teachers and training staff, on “racism, inclusion and prejudice” and will also put a new emphasis on African-Americans experience in the next academic year.
The University of Florida, the largest state with approximately 52,000 students, is expected to reopen in the fall semester with restrictions related to the coronavirus epidemic.
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In his letter, Fuchs said that the school will address a number of others related to the race of the subjects. These include a task force to document the history of this university on race and ethnicity, and a second task force to examine the honor grounds on campus.
“I am personally committed to eliminating all monuments or denominations that UF can control that celebrate Confederation or its leaders,” Fuchs wrote.
Fuchs said he is the college’s end of the prison aid practice and prison inmates as agricultural labor in some of its agricultural programs. He also said the university will step up efforts to recruit and retain African-American students, faculty and staff.
“It is time for UF to engage and engage in this uncomfortable challenge of job transformation,” Fuchs wrote in the letter. “We know that we cannot reverse the lifespan of injustice and racism, but we believe that we can make progress in education, in promoting truth, reconciliation and justice, and in the fight against racism, equality and work to eradicate inequalities. ”