Divisions and Gathering Spaces on UF's Campus SAMANTHA RICCHINI

Places that Divide Students...

Hume Hall is a dorm for honors students at the University of Florida. When I was a freshman, I wanted to live in these dorms because I was a part of the Honors Program but my best friend was not allowed to live there because she did not elect to partake in the program. As a result, I chose not to stay in these dorms because I wanted to be with my friend. While these dorms seek to provide an environment for honors students to congregate, it excludes other students who are not a part of the program. Every student at UF works hard and wants to succeed, so it has always been interesting to me that there was a specific dorm for honors students only.
Fraternities and sororities can feel divisive in multiple ways. This is something that comes with a degree of irony because the point of a fraternity/sorority is to foster sisterhood and brotherhood, but it can come at the expense of excluding those not in the group. For instance, IFC and Panhellenic groups are often full of almost entirely white populations, whereas multicultural fraternities and sororities feature almost exclusively minorities. These organizations are surely not designed to make people feel excluded, but they can inadvertently do so by being more inclusive to particular populations.
The Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic/Latino Cultures are places that are meant to bring people of similar cultural backgrounds together. However, these places can also feel divisive to those that are not included in the culture. People who do not identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino would probably not venture into either of these buildings due to the emphasis on cultural congruence.

Places That Bring Students Together...

The Reitz Union is the University of Florida's student union. It is designed to bring all kinds of people together and to be the forefront of the university. Most tours of the campus begin and end here. It features many resources that can be used by any student on campus.
Turlington Plaza is UF's free speech area. Anyone is allowed to advertise their organization, share their views, and congregate here. This plaza symbolizes the overall goal of a university by allowing diversity of ideas and opinions. I have walked through Turlington countless times during my time at UF, and I have been exposed to many different beliefs. Sometimes I am exposed to beliefs that are different than my own, and I do not agree with them, but it reminds me that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and deserves to be able to express them.
Plaza of the Americas is another place that brings students together. On a typical day, you can walk through Plaza and see students sitting on towels chatting, laying out in the grass, relaxing on hammocks, throwing frisbees, and enjoying Krishna lunch. It is such a pleasant feeling to walk through this plaza because it is somewhere that everyone can go to unwind and meet up with friends.
The library is another place that brings students together (whether we like it or not). Every student at UF is bonded by the fact that we go to a very difficult school with a challenging course load. Regardless of your major or year, it is likely that you have used the library as a place to meet with study groups, check out a book, or pull an all-nighter writing a paper. The library does not exclude anyone or favor anyone. As long as you are a student, you are more than welcome to come and spend the whole day studying.
Being in the stadium, particularly on game days, is an experience like no other. Every single student is invited and encouraged to congregate in the stadium to support the Florida Gators as they take on other football teams. I have spent many game days in this stadium, and I can honestly say that few experiences feel so unifying. Looking around and seeing every student decked out in orange and blue reminds me that we are all Gators, regardless of our differences.
Created By
Samantha Ricchini

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