University of Florida bans ‘Gator Bait’ cheer in step ‘against racism’

Announcement included in list of plans to combat racism, social injustice on Florida's campus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida announced Thursday the ban of the “Gator Bait” cheer by the university’s athletics and Gator Band.

In a letter from President Kent Fuchs that detailed out a list of plans to combat racism and social injustice on Florida’s campus, the president listed the ban of the cheer by University Athletics and the Gator Band.

“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase. Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer,” Fuchs said.

The chant was used at Florida Gators sporting events in insinuating its opponents are gator bait.

Prior to the chant being used on campus, the phrase has been used specifically against the black community, according to Sports Illustrated. reported that African American babies were used as alligator bait, citing the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, which notes newspaper articles and imagery from the late 1800s and early 20th century. The term “alligator bait” was also used as a racial slur against African Americans.

Also included in the university’s action plan against racism is the “removal of any monuments or naming that UF can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders.”

Fuch’s ended his letter by saying, “It is past time for UF to commit and engage in this challenging, uncomfortable, transformational work. We know that we cannot undo lifetimes of injustice and racism, but we believe we can make progress - in education, in advancing truth, reconciliation and justice, and in anti-racism, equality and working to eradicate inequities. This process will not be easy, and we will need to work together through the imperfections, missteps and complications that always accompany change. But the progress we seek is fundamental to who we are at UF and to our expectations of ourselves, and I look forward to joining all of you on behalf of our campus, community and country.”

To see the full list of changes, click here.