Dozens of University of North Florida students gathered on campus to “take a knee” in solidarity with NFL player protests on Wednesday.
They are also asking the administration for more representation — and students from differing sides made their voices heard.
The Students for a Democratic Society organized the rally and held signs and expressed their thoughts before a crowd. The goal of the rally was two-fold: raise awareness and demand change in the curriculum
“We're standing in solidarity with victims of police crimes, as well as raising awareness around the police accountability council,” Monique Williamson, president of Students for a Democratic Society, said.
But not everyone agreed with the message. A small group also showed up wearing pro-President Trump T-shirts and holding signs. Others just stood silently holding the American flag — and playing the national anthem.
“I have a lot of family members that are active duty and friends that are active duty, so I came out here to support the flag and support our national anthem,” student Jared Rubin said.
The end of the rally was marked by many students kneeling while chanting — except for one person that stood in front of the crowd with his hand over his heart. The move made for a tense moment as others tried blocking him.
Williamson said said Wednesday’s rally wasn’t only about police brutality concerns.
"We think that there needs to be more black representation here on campus, whether it be through professors, whether it be through counselors," Williamson said.
Williamson said she’d ask like to see an African-American studies program at UNF.
While many were divided on nearly every issue, opposite sides had conversations and while they disagreed, there was also tolerance for fellow Ospreys.
“They wanna stand up for what they believe, in so I commend them for that, actually,” Rubin said.
While there were some tense moments, the rally did remain peaceful.
UNF sent Action News Jax a statement about the university's African-American studies/Disapora minor.
"The University is dedicated to diversity among our faculty and was recently recognized nationally as a 2017 Diversity Champion and a 2017 Higher Education in Diversity Award," a UNF spokesperson said.
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