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UNF Students And Faculty Voice Concerns After Two Racial Incidents Occur During Fall Semester

Cyd Hoskinson
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were among those protesting outside UNF's Alumni Hall on Kernan Blvd. during UNF student Ken Parker's suspension hearing on Nov. 20.

UNF students and faculty are expressing their concerns over the school’s learning and cultural climate in wake of two racial incidents that occurred this fall.

Credit Submitted to WJCT News / Via Facebook Messenger
UNF student Ken Parker was suspended after a threatening message and image was distributed on social media.

The racial incidents involve one student who posted a video to Snapchat of two people mocking, “in a racist way," students who participated in an October Black Lives Matter rally on campus. And last month, a  student, who has a history as a white supremacist, posted a photo of himself on Facebook Messenger holding a gun directed at the school’s democratic society organization which was widely shared.

Jenny Stuber, a sociology professor at the university says she’s talked to many students about the recent incidents on campus and she worries about students’ physical and mental well-being.

“So I’ve definitely heard from students from different demographics as well as those involved in movements and those not involved in movements that this is affecting their sense of safety and I think my biggest concern about that is that if their sense of safety is being threatened then their ability to learn is also being threatened,” said Stuber.

Stuber added students aren’t the only ones affected by incidents like these. The possibility of gun violence, she says, also takes a toll on instructors.

““That in particular was even hard for me just to go about my life as if things were not, hadn’t changed on campus. [It was] as if it was another normal day and I could really feel that my own coherence wasn’t there. My own ability to back up the material and explain the material wasn’t there.”

Others have voiced concern regarding how the UNF administration has handled these situations. Olajuwon Roberts who graduated this past year, said more needs to be done concerning the incidents and is disappointed in what he is seeing.

“[I’m] a little lost for words just in the sense of how UNF handled the situation.” said Roberts, adding, “UNF is a university that harps on diversity but every time an incident, especially a racially sensitive incident happens, UNF seems to drop the ball.”

Markale Ford, a senior and president of UNF’s Black Student Union said he’d like to see the campus come together in support of diversity, instead of everyone taking different sides.

“That's the time for all of us to come together and use our power in numbers as those people opposing it and try to make it a better environment. I think it can get better,” said Ford. 

Kelton Givens can be reached at, 904-358-6317 or on Twitter at @Kelton_Givens