Save the Racks!: University of Florida, Alligator Newspaper in Standoff Over Campus Newsstands

An odd end-of-the-week story is emerging from the University of Florida and gaining mainstream news media steam.  UF administrators are apparently waging a battle royale against The Independent Florida Alligator over 19 orange news racks that serve as Gator distribution points.

The highly-visible racks are located at “some of the most heavily-trafficked” spots on campus.  The university plans to replace them with black modular newsstands of its own, charging the Gator an annual licensing fee of $100 per stand to place their papers upon them.  The initial targeting of the 19 racks appears to be the first step in a larger push that will most likely lead to the removal of all independent Gator stands.

Along with being a money issue, UF says the racks don’t “blend in with the historic look of the campus” and are foul-weather concerns.  As a UF admin. told the SPLC Report’s Seth Zweifler, “Every time we have a tropical storm or hurricane, we have to get the racks off campus.  The worry was that this was a safety issue . . . where those racks could become dangerous projectiles in a storm.  The modular racks solve that problem.”  (Hmm.)

Projectiling aside, Gator staffers and their supporters say censorship is the main potential consequence of this administrative finagling.  In an editorial published yesterday, headlined “Save the Racks: The Alligator Needs Your Help,” top eds. contended, “By removing our racks, we believe the UF administration is not acting in the best interest of the students. With UF now controlling our distribution on campus, what happens if we have coverage of the UF administration that they find unfavorable? Will this change our relationship with the university?  The uncertainty of this new arrangement will create a chilling effect, hampering our ability to provide students with the most accurate and unbiased coverage.”

My Take: Turning orange to black, free to license fee, and traditional to modular.  This disgustingly corporate move should sadden and anger everyone within Gator Nation and collegemediatopia.  Claiming the color orange clashes with the rest of campus– at a school whose colors are blue and orange– is almost as ludicrous as citing hurricane safety as a rationale for this change.  Seriously, how did the administrator forced to state that publicly keep a straight face?  The real storm here is one of f***-you-style censorship and a misguided money-grab.  UF administrators, it’s not orange you have to worry about– exerting control simply because you can is what really clashes with your purpose as an institution of higher learning.  Save the Racks!

2 Responses to “Save the Racks!: University of Florida, Alligator Newspaper in Standoff Over Campus Newsstands”
  1. I seem to remember seeing newspaper racks all over the state of Florida. Do they all become dangerous projectiles during a storm? How about securing them somehow?

  2. Eric Kock says:

    Now many of us that knew where to grab a copy cannot. The racks are not there and NOTHING has taken their place. Talk about bulls–t! Those iconic orange racks have been around for many years. Stop the money grab and censorship and put the racks back. Please!!