Emma Sanchez didn’t realize the highlight of her freshman year was attending a small weekend trip to Camp Weed.
Through the activities and presentations, she learned an extensive amount about social identities on this trip, otherwise known as Gatorship.
“To put it simply, Gatorship was a social justice retreat,” the 19-year-old international studies sophomore said. “It was a huge eye-opener for me and I met so many incredible people.”
Gatorship was started in 2003 through the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs at UF. It is an off-campus weekend retreat that enhances students’ knowledge on diversity and learning about social justice.
On Monday, William Atkins, associate dean of students and senior director of
Multicultural and Diversity Affairs at UF, released a letter about the future of Gatorship at UF.
In the letter, Atkins indicated a change in the 2019-2020 academic year plan for Gatorship. As of now, the program will continue, but it will not host overnight retreats, he said in an email.
According to Atkins, he has been talking with current Gatorship directors about the program for this upcoming year.
“Their leadership is important, and I’ll continue to share updates as decisions are being made,” Atkins said.
Sanchez attended Gatorship in the Spring 2019. In her retreat, 75 participants were able to explore different parts that make up a person's identity, she said.
“It was disappointing to see [Atkin’s] letter, because it sounds like they're going to start watering down Gatorship,” Sanchez said.
She explained the letter talks about wanting to remove things like the fees and make it more accessible to all UF students from all demographics. However, she said she feels the cost is such a small part and should not be a deal breaker.
“When you think about diversity, people always think of things like race and gender, but Gatorship really took it further,” Sanchez said. “They even addressed socioeconomic status, sexuality and that's things that people don't necessarily think about.”
Sanchez said a retreat like Gatorship could not be held on UF campus.
“They take us out an hour away from Gainesville to this really nice camp area,” Sanchez said. “Stuff like that is so important.”