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University of Florida Students Call for Building Name Change, Citing Racism of Namesake

The University of Florida (UF) students protested Tuesday, calling on the administration to change the name of one of its buildings, WUFT reported.

Two UF groups, a student government political party called Change Party and an activist group called Goddsville Dream Defenders, led the protest.

J. Wayne Reitz UnionJ. Wayne Reitz Union

The building in question, the J. Wayne Reitz Union, is a 207,000-square-foot building that houses “campus student activity offices, the campus bookstore, a hotel and parking garage, a food court and restaurants, a bowling alley and a Wells Fargo bank branch.”

Renovated for $70.7 million in 2016, the building gets its name from former UF president Julius Wayne Reitz, who held the position from 1955 to 1967.

Reitz has been accused of racism due to his stance as a segregationist.

A task force that is now assessing potential renaming of campus buildings partially prompted the protest, Change Party candidate Ryan Wilder said.

“We wanted to make sure UF followed up with their promises,” he said.

Protesters said they want the building to be renamed after Virgil Hawkins, “a Black man who fought to be admitted to the UF College of Law for nine years. Hawkins withdrew his application in 1958 in exchange for the desegregation of UF’s professional and graduate schools.”

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