University of Florida president apologizes after graduates rushed off stage


This weekend, University of Florida students were participating in their graduation ceremony when they were dragged off stage for dancing -and it appears the Black students were treated more aggressively. "I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved", W. Kent Fuchs, the university's president, said in a statement on Twitter. Students say they were grabbed and shoved down the stage when they performed quick celebratory dances, with the usher apparently singling out African-American students, CNN reports.

Students were called up to the stage to receive their diplomas during the graduation ceremony on May 5, CNN reported on Monday.

"I want to personally apologize for us doing that on behalf of myself and also the University of Florida", Fuchs said during his speech.

Witnesses said that most of the graduates grabbed by the commencement marshal were black, according to CBS Gainesville affiliate WGFL-TV.

However, as one social media user pointed out: "What is conspicuously absent is a description of white students being allowed to "celebrate" on stage without getting pushed off of it".

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Christopher decided not to stroll and opted to hold up his fist after seeing his friends get pulled off stage, according to the The Gainesville Sun. "I was actually too afraid [to stroll] because I saw him shove other people".

Graduates who gave interviews to ABC news and the local paper said the experience left them feeling "embarrassed" and "unsafe", adding that the official treated black bodies in a very cavalier manner that was "degrading" and unacceptable. "They both were pushed and one of them got an entire bear hug".

Oliver Telusma, one of Garcia-Wilde's friends and a political science graduate, told the publication he felt embarrassed and degraded over the event. "That's not at all what commencement is about - it's about celebration".

Video of the event shows the usher physically escorting several black students off-stage, some mere seconds after they began their walk.