University apologises for manhandling African-American graduates

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Miami, May 8 (IANS) The University of Florida has issued an apology after a faculty member forcibly rushed African-American graduates off the stage, the media reported.

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

Some decided to dance across the commencement stage, or striking poses in a tradition known as “strolling”. The faculty member then manhandled them trying to quickly get them off the podium.

Several people took to social media to post videos of the incident, saying the man’s actions were unfair and unnecessary.

“This is absolutely disgusting, these students have paid more (than) $40,000 in tuition and if they want to dance for four seconds then it’s their prerogative,” a student at the university, shared on Facebook.

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School President Kent Fuchs, who was at the ceremony, tweeted an apology.

“During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage. I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved,” said Fuchs.

“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.”

Following the incident, the University posted a message on Twitter, saying: “The University is proud of the achievements of every single one of our graduates and regrets that any celebration of the day may have been diminished by those monitoring a graduation ceremony,” CNN reported.

Nafeesah Attah, one of the students who was forced off the stage, said her dance was a symbolic gesture and a tribute to her sorority.

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“He really aggressively pushed me and put his hands on me, and really took away that moment of me celebrating my graduation,” Attah told the media.

Students have asked the university to take action towards the faculty member.



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