UNF forms anti-hate task force after swastikas found on campus

UNF Campus Community Task Force will be led by interfaith organization OneJax

University of North Florida (UNF) File Photo (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The University of North Florida is in the process of forming a new anti-hate task force after swastikas were found spray-painted in a campus bathroom late last year.

After the 2019 incident at Founders Hall, UNF President David M. Szymanski emailed the student body in December to condemn the vandalism and announce a new UNF Campus Community Task Force to “review, explore and identify areas of opportunity that ensure a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment for all current and future Ospreys.”

“These acts were cowardly and appalling, and opposed to everything we stand for as a university,” Szymanski wrote. “In addition, this type of vandalism is a serious crime, and anyone who commits such an act faces the risk of arrest and criminal prosecution.”

Szymanski then asked Provost Simon Rhodes to establish the task force, and Rhodes tapped interfaith organization OneJax to lead the way.

“OneJax has years of professional experience facilitating discussions and workshops on challenging topics facing the Jacksonville community,” Rhodes said in a statement to News4Jax. “We believe the OneJax team is uniquely qualified to help us lead these important conversations.”

According to UNF, the task force will consist of students, faculty, administrators and staff. Provost Rhodes is already working with UNF’s Student Government and Faculty Association leadership to begin identifying task force members.

The formation of the task force comes a few years after Ken Parker, a UNF student and former member of the Jacksonville Ku Klux Klan, was suspended in 2017 for a social media post that showed him holding a gun.

Although a date has not been set, UNF said the task force is targeting early February for the first meeting.

The University’s Police Department is still searching for who is responsible for the vandalism. Anyone with information is asked to call UPD at (904) 620-2800.

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