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Interviewee: Student interviews at the Plaza of The Americas

Interviewer: James Wilson

Date: April 12, 1996


W: My name is James Wilson, I am interviewing Damon Austin as a

part of the series of the Plaza of The America's project.

Today is April 12, 1996, I am conducting the interview at

the residence of James Wilson at 3504 30th Terrace in

Gainesville, Florida. Damon, would you please state your

name and then spell your entire name?

A: My full name is Damon Lorne Austin.

W: Thank you. Damon, what are you studying here at the

University of Florida?

A: I am a student in agricultural engineering.

W: How long have you been a student at the University of


A: This is my fifth year as a student.

W: Are you originally from Florida?

A: Not originally, I am originally from New York city and my

family moved to South Florida when I was about five years


W: So you went to high school, junior high school here?

A: Exactly, yes.

W: What made you interested in coming to the University of


A: I had not originally planned to come to The University of

Florida. Actually, I originally planned to attend another

university and sometimes things happen in an individual's

life that you have to take an alternate route and University

of Florida happened to be one of those.

W: What was the university that you wanted to go to?

A: I was originally going to go to Georgia Institute of


W: For engineering?

A: Yes, for engineering.

W: How have you enjoyed your stay here. For example, are you a

Gator, do you go to the football games, are you well

connected to the culture here at Gainesville?

A: I have never attended a football game and that surprises

people. I have been to five or six basketball games, a

couple of soccer games, but that is women's soccer team

which they have a new team just within the last year. Other

than that, no i would not consider myself to be a Gator. I

am not a Ra-Ra type of individual. So, no I would not feel

that I fit in very well with the University promotional type

of genre, I guess, but I consider myself a validated


W: I have explained to you about the project, the Plaza of The

Americas, and I would like for you to just give me your own

thoughts about the Plaza. What are your immediate thoughts

when you think of the Plaza of The Americas?

A: Until you explained to me earlier the history of the Plaza

of The Americas, I did not know exactly what that history

was. I did not even know the name of that specific area on

campus until about three years of being a student. I

certainly have never seen any representation of their being

some sort of Latin-American history or Central-American

history or anything other than just a general space for

general purpose activities, is what it seems to me.

Particularly, I do not see many black students hanging out

there or many students other than what one would call

"white" students and I, myself, being a black student, I

took quick notice to this my first semester here. I noticed

that because I would always go to the library which was

Library West so my impressions of it are that it just seems

to be a general purpose area that there is not a whole lot

of pressure for students to conform to any kind of standard

of behavior. Simply, there was this frisbee throwing or

digs running around campus. it is almost a free-for-all at

some times, but I do not feel endangered when I walk through

there. I just do not feel that it is comforting either.

W: Why is it not comforting?

A: There does not seem to be an element of people there or

anyone who seem to have similar interests as me there. I

would say that really there only seems to be one type or

limited types of people there if you do not count the

visitors like the preachers or whoever is out there while

people are trying to publicize some sot of specific point of

view or something like that and that does not happen all too

often. It is not as politically focused as you made it seem

to be in this description.

W: Right, in the 1960s and the 1970s, as I explained to you,

there was a lot of political activity on the Plaza. As a

student here for five years, have you noticed any type of

political activity that would draw you to go to the Plaza?

A: I have not noticed any political activity that would draw

me, particularly to go but I could not say that I have been

well informed on every political activity that has occurred

there. I know, for example, the NOW organization has had

some type of functions there, etc.

W: What is the NOW organization?

A: I cannot remember the exact wording.

W: What kind of organization is it?

A: It is a women's organization. Certainly, it is an

organization that puts forth...

W: Is it National Organization of Women?

A: Yes, exactly, National Organization of Women and they are

politically and otherwise concerned with the interests of

women and how women can better deal with the social issues

and get along better in this environment.

W: So that type of activity was at the Plaza?

A: Yes, this was at least over a year ago but I think it was

during National Women's Month. Now there is a National

Women's Month that follows, I do believe, Black History

Month, so I guess that would be March. It is just one of

the many functions they probably had there.

W: You are African-American and you mentioned that the Plaza

did not have people who you could identify with, generally,

you had identified the people as white. Where would you say

that predominantly the African-American students would hang-

out on campus? Is there a particular spot?

A: Any particular spot that, I suppose, any one might initially

be able to see a lot of African-American or black students

would hang-out, could be what is called the set. It is the

area in front of Turlington Hall, particularly, actually the

section that is closest to the Marston Science Library.

That is where one could find a significant number as

compared to what you might find anywhere else with black

students hanging-out so to speak. I suppose they do it in

between class, just like other students might do so in other

parts of the "set."

W: Would you consider the set to be an extension of the Plaza

of the Americas?

A: No, personally, to me they seem to be two very different

places. The Plaza of The Americans seems more, I suppose in

these terms today, more alternatively oriented to the

student population. Whereas, the student population at the

set would be more organization oriented in general and when

you see a population of white students there, much of the

time there is an organization with a table set up. Whereas

with black students there are also tables set up, but being

a black student I know that black students also feel pretty

much that that is one of the few or only places they can go

to see other black students beyond the population of their

own specific classroom.

W: Where do you hang-out on the campus? Tell me more about

where you would socialize. Would you hang-out at the Plaza

of The Americas? Have you ever eaten any of the food of the

Hare Krishna or have you sung Kum-Baya with the local guitar

players that hang out there on the Plaza?

A: I suppose I could say, if you are serious I have never even

heard anyone sing Kum-Baya there.

W: I am just kidding here.

A: No. I, as an individual, I would not hang-out at the Plaza.

W: Why?

A: As I stated before, I do not really feel that the population

there have my interest in mind. Although, I could hang-out

with a variety of students, but it would be only to a

certain degree. I could hang-out with the average ideal of

what a white fraternity student would be, but that would

only be to a certain degree of interest for me.

W: So where do you hang-out?

A: I do not hang-out anywhere, actually, I am pretty much

focused on my studying and my hobbies are sports. I suppose

I hang-out in the city of Gainesville, if you will, because

I perhaps have played in Tennis challenges, these types of

things, and I get to know local people as well as people

affiliated with the University. Also I play a great degree

of intra-mural sports, if I can.. I try to play football, I

try to get involved with that. so my hanging-out is more

socially oriented with a sport twist to it.

W: So you never hung-out in the five years at the set or you

have never congregated there to talk with friends on your

way to class?

A: Not for any significant amount of time. When I say

significant amount of time, I mean for even more than thirty

minutes of an afternoon and probably in the five years, if

you add all of my time that I spent there, perhaps maybe

about an hour and a half.

W: So why is it so important for students to congregate and the

second question is, how have you come to observe the

location of white students and black students? Is it just

in passing constantly, because you seem to be a very serious

student with no time to really socialize in between classes?

How have you come to observe these different locations of

people on the set and on the Plaza? Is it common knowledge?

A: Is it common knowledge...

W: That blacks students hang-out on the set and generally,

white students hang-out on the Plaza?

A: Without a doubt. It is common knowledge, speaking

particularly about the set, it is common knowledge that

there are black students and white students on the set. It

is also common knowledge that black students hang-out in one

part of the set and white students hang-out in another part

of the set.

W: So the set is segregated?

A: Yes, almost shall never meet, but there is always


W: Where are those different locations?

A: As I mentioned, the black students pretty much hang-out as

close as you can to the Marston Science Library and still

being connected to the main walkway.

W: Is there any significance of why that location?

A: I really could not tell you. I really would not know. But

I know the white students hang-out along the wall that is

connected to a rear bike rack and is directly across the

street from the bell tower. I do not know if there is any

significance to that either. Then there are also elements

of white students which may or may not be affiliated with

the white students you see hanging-out on that wall around

the rock there, which is called the Turlington Rock. That

is pretty much it. Then you have your flocks of people that

are consistently going through.

W: So this is all informal. I mean, how does one learn where

to socialize and where to hang-out. When you were a

freshman at The University of Florida, is it just that you

see people who are like you and you congregate in that

general area. If let's say, you are a freshman and you do

not see anyone on the Plaza like you, so you chose not to

hang-out there? Is it just a general socialization process?

A: When I was a freshman, I initially, I suppose as anyone else

sought to hang out with "people who were more like me, who

were people who would hang-out with various types of

individuals. I am not, personally, used to a lot of

segregation in a social sense. I am used to being able to

deal with and interrelate with various types of people and I

did not see that represented in either of the groups so I

initially never gravitated towards any of them and that

behavior sort of stuck with me.

W: Is that typical of what you would say with other students?

I know you can only speak for yourself, but would that be a

typical representation of other students when they get here

at the University of Florida?

A: I have heard quite a few students say similar things and it

may be dependent upon what stage the student is at in their

academic career, where they are as a person, but I have

heard all types. I have heard students say they only hang

out with one group and not another and I have heard students

say they hang-out with neither and that is, I suppose, a

group of its own almost which does not assemble though.

W: If there were a political rally, let's say right now at my

alma mater University of Texas, there is a serious move to

dismantle the whole concept of affirmative action at the

University of Texas and let's say that happened here at the

University of Florida, where would students integrate

together in order to listen to speakers, to debate, I mean,

have you ever seen any joint type of efforts, like say,

resistance against apartheid? Have there been, in the five

years you have been here, any type of physical place on

campus where all types of students come together in protest

or in harmony? Is there any kind of place like that?

A: There are places I can imagine from personal experience and

from memory I really cannot say that. I am sure there have

been some organizations which have tried to purpose getting

students together, perhaps on the Plaza of the Americas or

on the set or even in front of the student union in that

large land area there. But I would not be able to tell you

which one is the most important to the student population.

I think it is a matter of just a provision of the expected

turn-out. I could not say that there is a specific area.

There are several areas that may provide for that type of

function, but I do not recall any function that seemed to

have occurred that I have really witnessed.

W: Have you ever considered partaking into the food of the Hare

Krishna? I mean, you are a healthy young man and you seem

to be very aware of the importance of food and recreation,

you say that you are a semi-pro jock-type, would you

consider eating some of that vegetarian food and just

hanging-out with some of the people who play guitars and

have their dogs there?

A: I am more of an individualist type of person so I do not

have an aversion to meeting anyone or to hanging-out with

anyone, but in itself, the Plaza still seems to me like a

large group of people as though you might see a group on the

set or one of the two groups I cited on the set. I have

considered eating the Krishna food, it has just never been

paramount for me at any moment to actually try it. It has

not appealed to my senses enough. Maybe it did not smell

like what I am used to or maybe I did not look at it and

say, hey, I have to try that. That is not to say that none

of it is appetizing, it just did not strike me at those

times that I have had the opportunity to walk through and

witness perhaps on my way to class or from class and I am

concerned with getting home.

W: SO that would be the one selling attraction for you would be

eating the food of the Hare Krishna. Is there any other

activity there that you would be interested in, like the

preachers, the ministers there, the evangelists, have you

ever stopped to listen to them?

A: I have stopped to listen, it is more of a show to me than

anything. Not particularly from what the preachers are

saying but from the entire atmosphere. It seems as though

the preachers are walking out there almost intentionally to

be persecuted and then you actually hear some students who

might commonly be on the Plaza during the times that the

preachers come out and simply try to ridicule and blast and

completely challenge the preachers. From time to time, I

imagine that the preacher says things that are out of order

or condemning of an entire population of people and then

that is taken with offense and then it is reacted to. SO,

to me it seems like a mess of a situation. I have been

through there and it seemed ridiculous, but it just seems to

me that is just one of the things that happens at the Plaza.

W: You do have some sense of observation there. Is that a two-

minute observation, you keep walking, or have you stopped

there for a significant amount of time. You have given a

specific amount of time that you have spent on the set in

the five years that you have been here, can you give the

same type of summation of how much time, perhaps, that you

have spent on the Plaza?

A: I have spent, literally, this is not a joke, probably at

most, if you do not count that I am walking through, that I

have actually stopped somewhere between five and fifteen

minutes in the all the time that I have been at the Plaza in

all these years.

W: Damon, is there anything else that you would like to add

that we have not discussed about the Plaza of The Americas

or the set in front of Turlington?

A: If this is about the Plaza itself, I do not think I have

really cited what I see when I walk through the Plaza. I do

not think I have cited what I feel. I do not feel in any

way averted or offended. I can imagine that a completely

stuffed-shirt person might say, I want you to avert the

people at the Plaza and these types of things. It is just

that if the Plaza really has the purpose that you cited to

me, I see that purpose going unfulfilled in the time that I

have been here.

W: Can you tell me what you understood the purpose to be?

A: I understood the purpose to be, at least in some way,

honorary to Latin-America or what we call, Central America

or any other type of country in America that sort-of has

that history to it. I do not see any, and maybe it is that

I have missed it, but I really do not think so, any type of

commemorative item or painting or anything that would be a

commemorative mainstay at the Plaza. Unfortunately, it does

not surprise me that you said that was the purpose of it

because to me it seems that fits right in with the culture

of the University to give false honor to maybe a culture of

people or maybe a section of people or a race of people even

just in name and that name is going and being used for

something else, for its own purposes at any rate anyway.

W: Have you ever seen the Chinese or Latino, we have mainly

spoken of white and black and I always try to talk about

diversity and much broader terms. Have you noticed any

pattern in the five years that you have been here of where

the Latino students, particularly would hang-out or the

Chinese students or the foreign students for example? Are

there any different areas besides the set and the Plaza of

The Americas that those students would congregate in


A: If not for organizational purposes, for example at the union

in perhaps some sort of meeting room. I really do not see

any environmentally exposed place where a group of people

could experience and appreciate the many days of sunshine we

have, the nice weather we have here. Actually the only

people I see appreciating the weather and the sunshine and

all that we have here in a mass sense would be what one

would call a "white" population. I do not mind stating

white or black as it is, because if those are the two

extremes, which they are as far as we know, they are the two

extremes which exist in this American society, then every

other type of person will fall in between those, at least

from a phenotypic racial standpoint and that is important to


W: The last thing that you would say is that you typically do

not hang-out in either. You do not hang-out necessarily at

the set nor have you been interested in hanging-out at the

Plaza. Generally, if I can understand your situation is

that you are a very serious student, you go through both of

those areas, but you are mainly associating yourself with

sport-like activities and generally, these are some

observations you have formulated over the years of being a

student here. Is that a good summary of what you said?

A: I could try to answer that like this, I think that every

place that has been designated, let us say the set, I think

that anyone affiliated with the University would be happy

that there was an area where students could hang-out which

we call the set and also a place named the Plaza of The

Americas where students can hang-out. I think these places

are designed for, ultimately, the uplift of students across

the board, whoever the students are. For example, Plaza of

The Americas, if it has been named that then it is obviously

set forth to honor either a population, an area or a culture

of people, something to that affect. That goes directly

along with the uplift of a particular type of people. I

would say, on the set, it is more general purpose and

speaking on the point of uplift, I really do not see the

fact that white students are really doing a whole lot to

uplift themselves other than just relaxing, which is fine

because to me, in my personal opinion, there are many other

facets of the University that focus on specifically their

own uplift. I think, moreso than any other group of people,

black students congregate there particularly to feel a sense

of uplift that is not felt at all anywhere on the University

campus to a large degree. I think if you interview quite a

few of the black students out there, they would say

something similar.

W: What would you recommend as an uplift? What is an example

of, and what is the need of the uplift?

A: The point I am getting to is saying that I go through now in

order to relate to those younger black students and let them

know that there is an element of a black student population

and through my relations with other black professors, that

there is an element of people who are liked and that they

can communicate with and they know appreciate them and give

them more hope in succeeding through the system and through

the matriculation at the University and really to monitor

not in a George Orwell "big brother" type of way, but more

in a loving big brother type of way to really just help, as

I said, in uplift, and inspiring them to achieve whatever it

is that they need to achieve in order to function as viable

beings in this society and so that they feel good about


W: My last question. Can you tell me, Damon, whether your

future goals after you graduate from the University of

Florida, what are your plans if you have gone that far.

What will you do?

A: That is an extensive list. A few of the things I will say

is, basically, I would like to do research in agriculture,

particularly Africa, as well as the Middle East.

I would also like to teach at a major university in the

United States once I have done my research. I would like to

be able to ultimately help a large part of the world

population in an agricultural sense to be productive and os

that people have control over their own agricultural

situations to where they are controlling their own

agricultural economy.

(Next Interview)

W: My name is James Wilson, today I am conducting an interview

as part of the Plaza of The Americas series. I am

interviewing Joyce Marie Norris, a student here at the

University of Florida. The interview is being conducted at

720 S.W. 34th Street Apt J100, this is the apartment of

Joyce Norris. The time is 7:00, April 16, 1996. Joyce can

you please state your full name and spell your full name for


N: Joyce Marie Norris.

W: Thank you. Joyce can you state basically what are you

studying here at the University and how many years have you

been at the University of Florida?

N: Right now I am a Junior, so I have been here for about three

years. My major is in History, but I am also studying in

the sciences for going to a Chiropractic program in the


W: Are you originally from Florida?

N: Yes, I grew up in Miami, Florida.

W: I have explained to you about the history of the Plaza of

The Americas, what are your immediate thoughts about the

Plaza. If someone says, hey I am going to go and hang-out

at the Plaza of The Americas, would you know where to go on


N: Yes, I know where the location is.

W: Did you know the name of the Plaza of The Americas, or did

you have any prior knowledge of the history of the Plaza of

The Americas before this interview?

N: Yes I did. In fact, I knew about the Plaza in my

orientation when first arriving at the University of


W: Briefly tell me what you know of the Plaza?

N: From what I was told, the Plaza of The Americas, I do not

know exactly where the origin of the name came from, but the

certain trees that are lining the boundaries of the Plaza,I

was told was from a meeting of all the presidents and head

people of the different countries of South America and each,

in a sign of peace or contribution, they brought a tree that

was original from each country and planted it in the park

and there is a plaque at each tree. That is about as much

as I was told. I was also told it was a meeting place for

all the students.

W: What type of students do you generally see that would hang-

out at the Plaza of The Americas?

N: The average person I see at The Plaza of The Americas is

usually a non-student, I would say, homeless person. The

only reason why I am saying homeless is based on the clothes

they wear, it is very tattered, they usually have dogs,

heavy back packs. That is about the average person I would

see there. Also the Hare Krishnas, many of them there and

of course, the people expecting a free meal from the Hare


W: Would you say that predominantly most of the students that

you see at the Plaza are a mixture of races, Hispanic,

African-American, White, or what would be your general

observation of the Plaza?

N: I would say not. I would say that the average person there

is white. I am sure there is people crossing through. I

have never seen a congregation other than of white people

there. I have never seen any minority represented there at


W: Where would you generally say the minority students

congregate on the campus of University of Florida?

N: I would say in the Turlington area, closer to the Marston

Science Library.

W: That is right outside of Turlington?

N: Yes, right outside of Turlington almost in the center

pathway between Turlington and the Marston called CSE


W: Where do you generally hang-out because I am not getting the

impression that the Plaza of The Americas is where you would

congregate to meet with your friends?

N: No, I have never hung-out there. Where me and my friends

usually congregate if necessary is usually what they have

termed "The Rock," based on the sculpture that is found

outside of Turlington.

W: So if I wanted to meet you I would say Joyce, meet me at The

Rock and you would know exactly where I was talking about?

N: Yes.

W: Where do you normally see people of color, like Hispanics,

African-American students, Asian students. Where would they


N: Where i said before, it is usually in that area. The same

Turlington area, but more towards the library on the certain

concrete planars and benches and usually that is where I see

the areas. I see the Vietnamese clubs represented there,

the Latino clubs represented there and also the African-

American Greek organizations are being represented.

W: Are you familiar with the term "The Set"?

N: No.

W: The Set is a term that is the geographical area that you

described African-American students generally call that the

Set. I was initially told that that is where a lot of the

black Greek type of step shows or activities take place.

Have you witnessed anything like that, sororities or

fraternities activities of the blacks?

N: I have never seen the step shows, but I have seen, in fact

it was two weeks ago, I saw a sort of sorority initiation

taking place, a black sorority.

W: Would you consider the Set, or that Turlington area, the

Rock to be an extension of the Plaza of The Americas?

N: No, I do not see it at all.

W: Why?

N: It is two totally different geographic areas and also two

totally different social areas. It is just obviously two

totally different groups of people. It is obvious, you

would never see one in the other.

W: You would say that the University of Florida is somewhat

segregated in its social places for their undergraduate


N: Highly. I see segregation highly based on race and based on


W: Are you a part of a Greek association?

N: No, I am not.

W: You are saying that the Plaza has mainly people who are non-

students but I have seen when I go to the library the

evangelists there, and I see students with backpacks that

would suggest that they are students hang-out and listen to

the evangelists. Have you ever observed that?

N: I have observed what you are talking about and I would

probably say the only reason those students are in that area

is because of the evangelists or because of a political

debate going on. If it was not for that, I am sure those

students would not be there.

W: Having given you some history of the Plaza, you realize that

back in the 1960s and 1970s there were a lot of political

activities that took place there. Would you say that that

tradition or that legacy still remains in the Plaza of The

Americas? You mentioned some political debates. Have you

noticed that the Plaza is a political area?

N: I would say it is a political area, strictly to the

definition of wherever there is a political campaign debate

or grouping going against some political forum in UF, that

is where it would be taking place. I do not think it is at

the same intensity as what you just spoke about in the

1960s. Every debate I have seen against student government,

against any even the local government of Gainesville, has

been at the Plaza of The Americas?

W: Did you participate in listening to those demonstrations?

N: The student government debates I listened to some, but that

was about the only debates that I actually listened to.

W: Have you ever taken part of the free meals by the Hare

Krishna or decided to stop by and listen to the guitar

players or the beads? Have you ever, as a student, decided

that Hey, it is a hot day, I want to hang-out at the Plaza?

N: Never.

W: What about at night when you pass through the Plaza going to

the library, have you ever been a part of a student group to

discuss class or whatever?

N: Never, in fact, while in the dormitories there were a number

of rapes that were associated with the Plaza of The Americas

which is what allowed as you walked through those certain

blue lights with the certain emergency phones, why there is

more there per square yard than anywhere else on campus.

The fact that it is done by students with the number of

rapes that I was told about is what makes me go completely

around the Plaza if I ever need to go anywhere on campus by

myself at night, but I have never gone to the Plaza at night

for any reason.

W: You are saying that rapes took place right there on the

Plaza at night?

N: Yes, attacks, purse snatchings, muggings, rapes at night.

W: Generally, this would be reported that they were non-


N: They were students.

W: They were students?

N: Yes, they were students and as I have been here for the past

three years, I have noticed more and more of trees cut down,

more lights put up, more securities and maybe now it is much

safer than when I first came here. You can always count on

a police officer to be around that area, but if you talk to

anyone, the Plaza of The Americas at night usually makes

some women feel a little fearful and raise their eyebrow to

going there.

W: Tell me more about your overall impression. When you first

came to University of Florida you said that you were given

information about this general area during the orientation.

If you can go back and remember, were you told that this

was a place that students congregated and played frisbee?

Was it told somewhat in the caveat that this was a place

that you would hang-out in the four years or five years that

you were a student?

N: Yes, in fact they strongly emphasized that this was such a

main area for students to hang-out and when I questioned why

there were so many non-students at that time, my orientation

was during the summer, and they said it was because it was

summer. When I attended here my first Fall, I expected to

see all of these students, but to my surprise as I described

to you now, it was basically the same type of person was

there three years ago that is there now.

W: Where else would you describe major congregating centers on

the University of Florida, beyond the Rock, the Set, the

Plaza of The Americas, is there any other area?

N: Not that I can really think of. Turlington is such a major

thoroughfare I guess you could say between the buses and

class that people usually stay in that area. A It of

people, I would not say a lot, not to the level of

Turlington, but many do congregate outside of Little Hall

around Carleton Auditorium. That is usually a popular area

because there is a food stand there, there is many benches,

plenty of trees, that is usually an area where some students

do congregate.

W: Can you tell me where you would go if you had to meet

someone on campus and you wanted to discuss what happened in

class or if you wanted to discuss a paper. I am just trying

to get a heartbeat of where that would be. Would that also

be outside of Turlington?

N: Due to my schedule, it is all science classes right now. It

would usually be at the CSE Library, in the library. If

this is about classes, it is usually I meet people at CSE

Library. If it is about another class, it is at the other

library which is called Library West. That is usually where

I call people to meet.

W: Is there anything that we have not discussed about the Plaza

of The Americas or the Set, that you would like to add at

this point?

N: Just that there is strong segregation on the campus today.

The Plaza of The Americas is not a student area. I just do

not think it is a student area. Of course, these people

have every right to be there, it is a public university,

they can be there, but it would be nice if there was more

students there. It is a very nice area, but the fact that

you are going to be harassed if you go there is quite

disappointing. That is about it, just a strong segregation

on campus.

W: Where would you suggest that the University make some type

of inroads in terms of addressing the segregation? Many

believe that the Plaza of The Americas is this haven for

student activity, political activity, where would you, if

you had an opportunity to make it be known to the

administration here at the University of Florida, that in

fact the Set and the Rock and the Wall and the Plaza are

very isolated entities where people would not even consider


N: The fact that the University of Florida administration likes

to believe that the Plaza itself is a very integrated area

where all these students go to because I saw that through my

orientation where that was the main center place where we

always had to meet and I was just waiting until the Fall

when everyone is going to be there. I think if you want to

get to University of Florida students on a large-scale,

meaning everyone, you would have to go through The

Alligator, which is not tied to the University but everyone

reads it and if you want to get a large-scale reaction, I

think it would have to be through an editorial in the


W: You would think that people would actually respond because

the University has tried to, in the past, change then

physical layout of the Plaza and there was a lot of

reaction. You think that if someone wrote a commentary that

there is social segregation where people congregate before

and after class, that there would be some awareness of this?

N: There would be awareness. Would I say there would be a

reaction to it? I doubt it. The kind of student at

University of Florida, is not one to be socially aware and

want to change. They seem to be someone who wants to come

in, get their education and leave. So I do not know,

honestly, if I would say there would be a huge reaction, but

there would be awareness and you would have a large-scale

audience and it is up to that audience to react to it on

their own will because the only way anything is going to be

changed is if the students change it, no matter what the

administration does, nothing will be done unless the

students want it. So it is up to the students to want the

change and I just do not see that happening at the

University of Florida.

W: Joyce, tell me what are your plans after you graduate from

the University of Florida? You have an interesting mix, a

Humanities and a Science background.

N: I see it as almost an overall education I am trying to get.

I am trying to get the history and also plenty of sciences.

I enjoy history and the liberal arts, but I also plan on

going to Chiropracting school and due to their requirements

it is heavy science. After getting my history degree I

hopefully plan to attend school up north at a Chiropracting


W: That will be after one additional year here?

N: Yes, I have one more year. I plan on graduating Spring of

1997 and after that is when I will be attending a

Chiropracting school.

W: I want to just thank you for the interview and I hope that

the Plaza of The Americas or the Set or the Rock or the Wall

will someday, I guess blend into just a social outlet where

people will feel comfortable with each other. Hopefully,

this could happen as an outset of this project, but we will


(Next interview)

W: Hi, today it is April 14, 1996. I am continuing the series

of interviews on the Plaza of The Americas project. I am

interviewing Jeremy David Cohen at 915-B S.W. 6th Avenue in

Gainesville, Florida. The time is 4:30 and now I am going

to begin the interview. Jeremy will you please state your

full name and spell your name?

C: Jeremy David Cohen.

W: Thank you. Jeremy, please tell me briefly what you are

studying here at the University of Florida?

C: I am a graduate student in Anthropology, this is my second

year at the masters level particularly studying archeology.

W: Where are you from originally?

C: From California.

W: What part of California?

C: Northern California. The Monterey Peninsula.

W: So the climate here at Florida is not very different than

you are used to?

C: It is nasty here.

W: It is nasty here, why?

C: I do not like the humidity.

W: You do not have humidity in California?

C: Not where I lived, the heat is a dry heat.

W: I am from Texas, so I concur. I am from Dallas, so I am

used to a drier heat. Let me just ask you to get your

impressions about the Plaza of The Americas. I have briefly

talked to you before the interview about the history, some

of which you knew, but what are your immediate thoughts if

someone were to say tell me what you think about the Plaza

of The Americas?

C: My immediate thought?

W: Yes.

C: The first things that come into mind?

W: Exactly.

C: Hippies.

W: Hippies, from the nineties hippies or hippies from the


C: No, nineties versions of hippies.

W: Define the hippie according to you?

C: That is problematic. A lot is based on clothing image. The

Plaza at times appears as if it were a piece of a Grateful

Dead concert.

W: For those who are not familiar with the Grateful Dead can

you please tell me what specifically that is?

C: The Grateful Dead concerts have a lot of activities going on

that are not specifically the audience listening to the

performance. Juggling, Hackysacking, drum playing, drug

use, though I have not seen drug use on the Plaza of The


W: But you assume that it is there?

C: I assume there is people there who have drugs and are

willing to sell, but I have never seen that.

W: What about the Hare Krishna food? What about the

evangelists? What about the students with their dogs, the

frisbee playing? Have you participated in any of those


C: I have never eaten the Hare Krishna food, I do not like to

wait in line for food. Krishnas serve between twelve and

one and I try not eat between twelve and one.

W: Why?

C: I do not like waiting in line.

W: Even though the food is free?

C: I heard it is free or a willing donation on the part of the

consumer. What I am saying is that if I were to eat there I

would give them something, but no, I have never eaten the

Hare Krishna food.. I have stopped for the evangelists, I

enjoy watching the evangelists. I enjoy watching the

crowd's interaction with the evangelists.

W: What specifically do you like? What intrigues you about the


C: I like to hear what the evangelists have to say. I like the

interactions between the evangelists and the crowd.

W: When I pass there and just recently, the police were

involved because some students complained that the

evangelists were harassing them. Have you ever been

technically harassed by any of the preachers or evangelists

on the Plaza?

C: No, not at all. I have never had any direct interactions

with the evangelists.

W: So you have never been propositioned with the bible or a


C: Pamphlets yes. The pamphleteers I would not call them

evangelists. Perhaps they were, but these were young

people, I assume they were UF students that had positioned

themselves on one of the diagonal sidewalks and they were

handing out pamphlets about, I think, the Bible, I do not


W: What would be the racial composition of those who you see on

the Plaza predominantly?

C: Those who hang-out on the Plaza?

W: Right.

C: White.

W: White. So you see no diversity. You do not see any people

at all other than white students?

C: Some of the Krishnas would probably be considered of color,

but in terms of permanent residents of the Plaza,so to

speak, it is not very diverse at all.

W: We talked briefly about the history, what do you know about

the history of the Plaza of The Americas in terms of how it

got its name or just tell me briefly what are of the Plaza

did you find out or did you become oriented with when you

first came to University of Florida?

C: When I came to University of Florida I entered directly into

the Archeological Field School, in St. Augustine so I never

had any formal introduction or orientation to the University

or to the campus or to my department. My orientation was

mostly informal through my fellow field school students.

What they told me about the Plaza was first that it was

specifically a free-speech zone which I found odd because

the entire campus should be, being that it is state funded.

Also that it was named the Plaza of The Americas. Why it

was I did not know, they did not tell me. Why it is, I

cannot really say. It does not reflect much of the Americas

if one thinks in terms of the North and South America


W: Your field work mainly is in Latin America, is that correct?

C: That is correct, I am studying the Spanish colonies of the

Caribbean. Maybe this will make it clear in terms of the

way I see the Plaza. The road that connects the airport and

the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic is

called the Avenue of The Americas. Along the Avenue of The

Americas are plaques that represent the flags of every

single country in this hemisphere. So it is quite clear

that the structurists of the Avenue of The Americas have

made an effort to show that the avenue actually represents

all of the Americas. I come here and Plaza of The Americas

is American in name only if one talks about Americas in the

larger hemispheric sense.

W: You have never witnessed, in the two years that you have

been here, any type of activity that would reflect something

that would be in keeping with representing various people

from the Americas?

C: No, I cannot say that I have.

W: You also know that during the sixties and seventies, the

Plaza of The Americas was the location of political activity

and you mentioned something briefly earlier. Have you

witnessed or participated in any rally or any political

activity since you have been here at the University of


C: Student political activity on the Plaza?

W: Right.

C: The one event that I witnessed, I did not participate in

because I was actually hanging-out inside of Grinter Hall

was some speeches given by some, I cannot remember the title

of the party, but a recently formed student party whose

platform was to give money back to the students. They had

set-up on the Plaza of The Americas and each of the

candidates were giving speeches in the days before the

recent student elections. Outside of that, I would not say

I have seen any explicit political activity.

W: At that rally, would you say that it was representative of

all the students at the University of Florida, was it more

diverse than you had previously noticed on the Plaza?

C: The speechmakers were more diverse, the audience was non-


W: What does that mean?

C: Nobody was listening.

W: So people were just there.

C: It was the regular activities, people either passing through

the Plaza on the way to the library or to the intersection

of 13th Street and University Avenue, or the usual crowd


W: You, yourself, did not really stay, you just went through

and saw this activity?

C: I did not go through I was watching for a little while from

a distance, from the lawn that is directly east of Grinter


W: You mentioned hanging-out. A part of the survey is to

really understand where and how and why people hang-out at

various locations. You mentioned "hanging-out" in front of

Grinter, is that a location where graduate students hang-out

or would you say in front of Turlington, that area? Where

particularly do you hang-out on campus?

C: To the question of where do I hang-out, I usually hang-out

either in the museum or the Latin American collection of the

library. I could not say that I spend time sitting around

at the common locations where students gather outside.

W: Where are those common locations according to your


C: As far as I could tell the Plaza of The Americas and the

Plaza that is between Turlington and The Marston Science

Library computer center complex.

W: You would consider that area an extension of the Plaza?

C: No.

W: You just said the plaza in between Turlington and the

Science Library, so I am just trying to get some

clarification here. What would you call that area, what

have you heard that area be referred to?

C: I would call it the Turlington Plaza and I have also heard

it referred to as the Set.

W: The Set, I do not know if you are familiar with this, is a

term that typically African-Americans have named it. Has an

African-American told you that or referred to it as the Set

that told you that?

C: One of my fellow Archeology graduate students referred to

that area as the set. Around Valentine's Day when he and

other African-American males are handing out flowers to

African- American females.

W: He said we will be doing this on the Set?

C: They have done it on the Set.

W: Prior to that conversation, did you know if he had said,

hey Jeremy, meet me at the Set...

C: I would not have known.

W: Can you describe to me just from your observation what type

of students generally congregate on the Set?

C: On the Set?

W: Or in the Turlington Area?

C: No, you can call it the Set, I have no problem with that.

The Set is more representative of being the plaza of the

Americas than the actual Plaza of The Americas. You know

what I mean?

W: No, what do you mean?

C: Let's use a crude identifier language.

W: O.K.

C: On the Plaza of The Americas in front of the library, I only

here English. On the Set, I have heard English, Spanish,

Caribbean Creole English, Patua.

W: Any Asian students?

C: No, I have not heard them speaking in languages that were

not English.

W: Are they representative on the Set, though?

C: Yes, they are. Pakistanis, Indians and East Asians too.

W: Tell me more about the physical layout of the Set. I was

informed by one of my interviews that there is something

called the Rock and she referred to it as, Hey meet me at

the Rock.

C: Is that the potato?

W: Is that what you would call it?

C: I do not know. There is that potato looking, rock looking,

statue, sculpture that has a bench circling it where

students sit.

W: Right, they call that the Rock?

C: That is the Rock?

W: Right.

C: O.K.

W: I know that, being a graduate student, you may not be privy

to the actual geographic location terms of where to hang-out

because we, generally, do not have that much time, but would

you just describe to me what you have seen in that area

since you would consider that more of a Plaza of The

Americas even though you have said you do not think it is a

physical extension of the Plaza?

C: No, I do not understand how it would be a physical extension

of the Plaza in front of the library.

C: In terms of one plaza being an extension of the other, I

would say that is true if you are actually moving. For

example, moving from Anderson Hall to the HUB. Obviously

the two plazas are connected. In terms of the way the

students interact and the actual groups of students who

interact at the two places, it is totally distinct groups

and the two do not mix.

W: They do not mix? Why?

C: I do not know.

W: You are saying that they are segregated?

C: Segregated is a term you could use, yes.

W: What other term could you use?

C: Another term that could be used is autonomous. Like groups

associating with like groups.

W: It is really problematic, maybe, to use the term Plaza of

The Americas which is supposed to be representative of

diverse atmospheres? Is that what you are saying?

C: There is various reasons or various justifications for

maintaining the name Plaza of The Americas. You explained

to me the history of the creation of the Plaza in terms of

the planting of the trees from different countries and the

plaques, so, yes, there was a past historical process which

made this the Plaza of The Americas. Does it continue to be

a plaza of the Americas, does it continue to represent all

of the Americas or does it try to represent all of the

different American students on this campus and when I say

American I do not mean particularly the U.S.? No. In terms

of the current process of its maintenance and its

reproduction as a Plaza of The Americas, it has nothing to

do with it.

W: You said you have noticed or you have heard more languages

on the Set, but I have come to find out that the Set in

itself is also segregated. Have you observed that?

C: Definitely. For example you talked about the Rock. The

Rock is problematic so let me move away from the Rock into

that short brick wall that is on the east side. That is

where a lot of the Sorority and Fraternity groups set up

their tables for penny voting and other weekend planning

activities and that is a definite area.

W: Is that a white or a black area?

C: That is a white thing.

W: O.K. What is a white thing?

C: I mean it is a white thing in that the majority of those

people are white and those folks never set their tables up

in areas that have come to be, perhaps not explicitly but

implicitly, spaces occupied and used by people of color on

the Set.

W: You have noticed this just be happenstance or as an

archeologist/anthropologist you just looked at the different

cultural mixes?

C: I would hope that my Anthropological training is not the

reason why I have noticed this. It seems pretty obvious to

me. I would hope that when I was in high school, I would

have been cognizant of this. For me it is pretty clear,

there is different groups, you could call them ethnic or

racial groups and they are represented by different parts of

the Plaza.

W: I am trying to get this term down.

C: Which term?

W: Plaza.

C: When I just said Plaza I am referring to what you have

referred to as the Set and we have discussed this.

W: What is the Plaza to you? Let us start with that terminology

first of all because you have also said, previously that the

Plaza of The Americas and plaza at Turlington? What is a


C: A plaza for me would be an urban public space constructed

for the purposes of public activities.

W: Such as speakers, music?

C: Speakers, music, merchants, performers, "a pasear," which is

people going out for strolls and the formal and informal

public activities whatever kind. It is a lot different

because this is a university campus but I think the general

idea is maintained. Quads in the North East I would

consider plazas.

W: Let me do a comparison here. Before coming to the

University of Florida, I believe you went to Amhurst.

C: That is right.

W: Can you tell me were the quads or plazas at Amhurst any more

diverse or any more politically conscious? What would be

the comparison between a quad at Amhurst and the Plaza or

the Set or the Rock at the University of Florida?

C: It is a difficult comparison because of the weather. The

quads or the open spaces at Amhurst have very little time

during the school year in which they are occupied because it

is too damn cold. You have to look to internal spaces

within buildings, the dining hall, the campus center, the

student union. Were they more diverse? Yes. Was there

segregation? Yes. Was there more political activity at

these places? Yes, definitely. In part because the dining

hall at Amhurst College to particulars of the

college I attended had 1,600 people with specific dinner

hours so that everybody is in the same place at the same

time so it is very conducive to social and political


W: I asked that because I wanted to get somewhat of a handle on

how you came to the University of Florida coming from the

north and coming down as a yankee to the south. I was

trying to get a feel for how you would view this place.

C: I am from California.

W: That is right, sorry. You are a Californian. I will

abstract that Yankee comment. I am more interested in how

people who are not from Florida come here and view the place

and view the social process. I am trying to get a handle on

how one would decide to either hang-out at the Plaza of The

Americas or hang-out at the Set or hang-out at other

locations on the campus. How did you come to make a

decision on, if you had any spare time to socialize, where

would that be and why on campus?

C: Right. The places that I have socialized have been in the

museum where I work and where my advisor works and where

some of my fellow students are and so that is a particular

archeologist context. I frequent that museum and talk down

there. Grinter Hall would be another place just because it

has a concentration of people who are interested in the same

things that I am interested in particular, Latin American

and the Caribbean.

W: You said you spend some time in the Latin American library

so you often have to pass the Plaza of The Americas to get

to Library East, is that right, where the Latin American

collection is?

C: Now, the Latin American collection is in Marston Science

Library. Until January it was in Library East, so I would

have to often pass through the Plaza of The Americas to get


W: I have been told that at night women here at the University

of Florida do not feel comfortable walking past there

because of a history of rape and muggings and robbery. Have

you heard of any of that type of activity while you have

been here at the University of Florida?

C: No, I have not.

W: Have you felt uncomfortable or endangered by walking by the

Plaza at night?

C: The Plaza of The Americas at night?

W: Right.

C: No, I have not. In terms of being uncomfortable, the only

times I have been uncomfortable in the public spaces has

been when there have been concentrations of police officers

and that has always been on the Plaza in front of


W: Why were they there? Describe that.

C: I was not sure but off-hand I have noticed that officers

have shown their presence in greater numbers and with

greater frequency in that area than they do at the Plaza of

The Americas during the day at night they have stopping and

getting out of their vehicles.

W: Do you have any idea or any reason why they would be more

representative on the Set than they would be...

C: I have my prejudices, yes.

W: What would they be?

C: There is a lot of black folk on the Set. Particularly when

the black folk on the Set are doing black folk activities,

cops show up.

W: In greater numbers than they would be at the Plaza of The


C: In greater numbers than there would be at the Plaza of The

Americas or if for example, one of the black frats are doing

the step show on the Set.

W: That is a good observation. I, myself, have not picked up

on that. I have noticed some policemen on the Plaza of The

Americas. Like I said, recently, some students complained

that the evangelists were "harassing" them. I put "harass"

in quotes because I do not know if they were grabbing them

and making them repent or I do not know what they were

doing. There is a general consensus that if black people on

any campus tend to congregate together, the university

police are generally asked to monitor the activities and see

what is going on. I have not seen the presence of a large

group of people on the Plaza of The Americas, but you say

that this is racially motivated?

C: I would say it is racially motivated. Cops could probably

make an argument in response in terms of safety or the

movement of people. The plaza in front of Turlington, the

Set, is a central location. In the mid-moments of the

school day, there are lots of students passing through

during the changes in classes so they could probably make an

argument that just the massive people there, black, white,

Asian, Latin, they would have to boost their presence, but i

do not know.

W: Do you have any recommendations for example, you said at

Amhurst College the students were a bit more political than

the students here at the University of Florida. What type

of recommendation or some type of activity or initiative do

you think would be instructive in informing students to

observe the kind of things you observed about the

segregation in the mall, the different types of people on

the Plaza of The Americas? Is there anything that we could

do as concerned scholars about the blatant continuation of

segregation on predominantly white campuses? Is there

anything that you could think of that would bring a broader

awareness of the issue or is it just the way it is?

C: Just the way it is? I hope not but I think we have to look

at the reasons why the people behave in the ways they do.

Would the Pakistani female students who hang-out at the

upper parts of the Set want any change in the way they act

during the day and the way they congregate?

W: How do you know for a fact that they are Pakistanis and

where specifically are minorities? Can you give me a racial

diagram of where the various groups are because that is new.

I did not even know that there was specific Pakistani?

C: The Rock seems to have sometimes a diversity of students who

usually meet there and then move on, usually undergraduate I

would say.

W: That is just a holding spot that could just be a

circumstance of just being there that it is not consciously

diverse? It is just a location that happens to be.

C: It is definitely a lot more consciously diverse and the

people who meet there I do not think I could argue who meet

there and one of their conscious objectives is to meet

people of other cultures or other ethnicities at that

particular place. You have the Rock, you have got that row

of frat boys and sorority girls, the African-Americans, I

wish I could diagram it, it would be easier. The African-

Americans are along the southern side of the open space, if

you are following. As you move up the stairs towards the

computer center and the library, you get East Asian

students, Indian and Pakistani students and then sometimes I

have seen some kids from the English speaking Caribbean

islands up in the upper area.

W: There is a black segregated part as well you have African-

Americans and you have African-Caribbeans?

C: The African-Caribbeans move in and out of the African-

American area.

W: How have you come to observe this?

C: Listening.

W: You listen?

C: Yes, from the accents and from the language.

W: Why is it that you are interested in this? How have you

come to observe it?

C: Why am I interested in this? I do not know.

W: Your observation is probably the most diverse in terms of a

clear observation and as you described this area I am

looking at the plaza and I can actually see it. I can see

it in my head. I am just curious as to why it is that you

have made this observation?

C: Perhaps it is from my experience in the Caribbean. Where

the Caribbean is so amazingly diversified place.

W: So you are drawn to that?

C: Yes, I am drawn to that.

W: Let us say that the Hare Krishnas came to the Set, would you

be more apt to try their food there in a more diverse


C: No, because I cannot say that I am trying the cultural

interactions of the students that hang-out there. I am

passing through.

W: You are not an active participant?

C: I am an active participant in the manner that everyone who

moves through those public spaces is a participant, but I

could not identify myself with one of the groups that

frequently meets and spends time there.

W: Where are the regular white people, I mean the non-Greek,

you said frat boy and frat girl? You specifically said the

African-American, you said the Asian and the Pakistanis, but

I do not know where the non-Greek person is?

C: The non-affiliated?

W: Exactly.

C: I do not know.

W: They are just in the mix somewhere.

C: Maybe they recognize, not consciously or in some way, but

the Set is just not big enough. I am not sure. Also,

because the Plaza of The Americas has been established by

the people who hang-out there as a space for those people

and because those groups who hang-out on the Set have done

the same for themselves, they have claimed the space,

squatter's rights so to speak, perhaps other students say I

cannot hang where the Alpha Phi Alphas hang, they would not

want it, I would not want it.

W: What is an Alpha Phi Alpha?

C: A member of a black fraternity.

W: You really should have chosen Kappa Alpha Xi because the

Alpha Phi Alpha is my direct rival.

C: Sorry, I say Alpha Phi Alpha, not because I have any

allegiance to either one, but they are more vocal. I have

heard them here more than I have heard anybody else.

W: I would say maybe on this campus.

C: That is what I mean.

W: Generally across the nation, I would not agree with that.

C: I went to Amhurst College and we had no fraternities so this

is my first experience with a university that has strong

fraternities and sororities, black, white, latino.

W: I am curious now for you to turn your anthropological eye on

to the Plaza so that I can get a kind of a more descriptive

eye on what you see at the Plaza.

C: What do you want?

W: What is it that you see? You made the observation on the

Set. You said some of the people there but when you stop

and listen to the evangelists, what type of students do you

see engaging in that type of activity?

C: The evangelists are interesting because when the evangelists

come and when they draw a big crowd, the crowd is, at times,

racially or ethnically diverse because they are people who

are passing through. I would consider myself one of those

people passing through. I have seen the Asian students,

African-American students stop and listen so perhaps the

evangelists are a diversifying element on the Plaza of The

Americas. Take the evangelists away and it is interesting

because it is more of a park in a United States sense. A

very white park in terms of people bringing their dogs,

playing frisbee, that for example, is something that would

not be done on an urban plaza in, for example, Santo Domingo

in the Dominican Republic.

W: You are saying it is more culturally. You would not say

that in Santo Domingo you would see people playing frisbee

and letting their dogs run around?

C: Not on a plaza, no.

W: Where would you see that?

C: That would be at a park, I guess. It would not be in a

central location within the urban environment if we are

calling the University of Florida campus an urban


W: What do you think about the Plaza, then as this political

haven? If the evangelists can stir up diversity, and their

have been some rallies there, if you wanted to bring to the

attention something to the general student population, would

you go to the Plaza, get a permit. You, yourself, would you

consider that to be a location where you would be able to

set up a forum?

C: No, I would try to do a public activity in front of

Turlington. I would do it at the Set.

W: Given the history and knowing the history of the Plaza of

The Americas, you would still go to the Set?

C: The history of the Plaza of The Americas as far as I can

tell is that its role as such a place is fading fast. Just

in terms of access to people and different types of people.

I think the Set is a more efficient position to establish

oneself if one wants to speak loudly and publicly, just in

terms of its physical location in relation to the different

centers and buildings that students and professors have to

get to on campus. The Set is more central.

W: The Plaza is just a place where some white students could

get a tan if they wanted to if it is a good hot day. It is

a place to get a free meal, to hang-out and buy some beads.

You alluded earlier that drug sales are there but yet you

have not, yourself, seen it. Keeping with the political

activity, you would not say it is the political hub of the

university right now? That is your observation.

C: I would call it a political center, because the folks

hanging-out there hang-out there because they want to hang-

out there. It is quite an expression of their political

position in terms of how they want to interact with other

students with the university and in the public at large. So

it is a political place. Is it the best political position

to try and reach either a majority of the student population

at the University or other various representative groups

within the student population? No.

W: You worked, like you said earlier, in Latin America. Do you

know any Latin American graduate students here at the

University of Florida?

C: Yes.

W: Do they know any of the history of the Plaza of The


C: I could not tell you. I do know that they do not hang-out

there. They hang-out at Grinter. They hang-out on that

lawn just outside of Grinter.

W: So that is a general Latin American, graduate hang-out?

C: I would not go so far as to label it an official hang-out.

For example, if a Latin American graduate student who works

and studies in Grinter Hall wanted to go outside and either

talk with someone or just hang-out, they would not stray

across the street onto the Plaza of The Americas. They

would go out to that lawn. Maybe it is just a very

materialists explanation that it is closer and we just do

not have to go out very far to find grass and there are

similar people in that area.

W: Jeremy, are there any other things that you would like to

add that we have not discussed so far?

C: I never responded to the question of what types of remedies

or solutions or ways of dealing with this problem are. In

terms of solutions, I do not know what is to be done. I see

that there are, I guess you could call them, grass roots

efforts going on right now, I would say, on the Set. For

example, on the Set, when the black fraternities and

sororities perform it does draw a crowd, it does break down

those small groups that are spread across the Set. A couple

of days ago there was a performance by some African drumming

group, I did not know who they were, there was a big crowd.

W: Yes, I saw that. I was there.

C: Those are the kinds of things that I like better than an

official move on the part of the University, so perhaps

maybe the students are moving in a positive direction on

their own. Does that integrate the Plaza and the Set? I do

not know if I could say, with conviction, that the people

who hang around at the Plaza do not move around, but that is

my impression.

W: Are there any initiatives that you would see that would

benefit or move people to understand that there really is

something valid in socializing with someone outside their

immediate group? Are you saying that just let this

naturally occur with student activities?

C: What I see sometimes going on in the Set, is that the actual

cultural or ethnic groups that congregate there, seem to be

at times at least, moving in a direction of exploring each

others different groups. That does not mean that the groups

all have to meld into one but I do see a time of greater

interaction between different groups of people. It is

unfortunate that the situation is so implicit or unstated in

terms of people arriving here and they are basically forced

into a certain pattern of behavior or pattern of spacial

distribution of themselves.

W: You are saying of a young freshman, black person, comes to

the University of Florida, there is an implicit kind of

geographic location that he or she will know to hang-out in

this particular area as opposed to just going to the Plaza

of The Americas and hanging-out and singing Kum Baya with

the guitar players? They know that that is not their place?

C: Yes, for example, I wonder about the hypothetical, young

African-American hippie who likes grass and likes trees and

comes to this campus.

W: From California.

C: Yes, from Berkeley. Would that person feel comfortable on

the Plaza of The Americas? I do not know. How would the

people on the Plaza of The Americas treat that person, as a

fellow nature lover or as a black hippie icon?

W: I am really impressed with your usage of the word hippie. I

was not aware that that word was still circulating in our

lexicon. I thought it was some kind of revisited or

revisioned word, but is it used?

C: I do not know. I use it because I think it is funny and

probably the folks that hang-out on the Plaza who consider

themselves hippies in the sixties would probably feel

comfortable with the term. The young folk who hang out on

the Plaza, probably do not. I do not care. I like it

because it amuses me.

W: Do they amuse you?

C: Do they amuse me? To a certain extent yes. I would have to

say yes.

W: I have to say thank you for your geographical insights as in

anthropology. I have gotten more of a geographical location

and a sense of identity from this interview. Jeremy, can

you tell me what your plans are after getting your masters

degree here in Archeology, is it Historical Archeology?

C: It is Historical Archeology.

W: What do you plan on doing afterwards? When will you get

that degree?

C: Hopefully, I will have that degree by the end of the Fall

semester of this year and I will apply to graduate programs,

programs in History here and elsewhere and then

make a decision either on continuing for a PhD in the

Anthropology here or continuing for a PhD in history here or

going somewhere else to do it or a PhD in Latin American

History or some other program.

W: I have just one brief recommendation that the University of

Texas in Austin has a fantastic program in Latin American

history, it is, as you well know, my alma mater.

(new interview)

W: I am continuing with my interview of students at the

University of Florida on the Plaza of The Americas project

for the Oral History program at the University of Florida.

Today is April 14, 1996 and I am interviewing Bernard Scott

Lucious. The interview is taking place at Diamond Village,

building 304, apartment 12 in Gainesville, Florida. Scott,

would you please state your full name and then spell your

full name?

Bernard Scott Lucious.

Thank you. Scott, what are you studying here at the

University of Florida?

I am pursuing my doctoral degree in English.

How long have you been a student here at UF?

I entered into the Summer B semester in June of 1994. SO

two years.

Are you originally from Florida?

No, I moved here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania though I was

born in Thailand.

Thailand is quite a distance from Pittsburgh.

My father was in the military, so I lived sort or a military

brat type of life and we travelled all over. I went to

high school in Wheeling, West Virginia and later went to

Pittsburgh to pursue my undergraduate degree from Carnegie-

Mellon University and continued on to study at the masters

level at Ducan University.

What brought you to the University of Florida?

A number of factors actually. One of my professors at

Carnegie-Mellon is a graduate of the English program here at

the University of Florida also my mother has relocated to

Orlando, Florida. In addition to those factors, the program

itself was appealing to me and this was the program that was

ideal for my graduate studies.

W: You have enjoyed your stay here at the University of Florida

so far?

L: I would say I have. I had to get used to living in a small

town such as Gainesville but nonetheless, the program, the

department, the University has been ideal for me.

W: You have become a Gator, so to speak?

L: A reluctant Gator.

W: Why reluctant?

L: Although I watch some of the Gator football games on T.V., I

have not been very much a supporter in terms of

participating in the games and so forth.

W: I have explained to you briefly, the history of the Plaza of

The Americas and I would like for you to just tell me, what

are your immediate thoughts when you think of entering the

Plaza of The Americas?

L: The Plaza of The Americas projects an image of a modern-day

Woodstock at the University of Florida for me. That is what

comes to mind. When I walk through the Plaza itself, either

to go to Library West or to Matherly Hall or Anderson Hall,

where I teach and also have office space as a T.A. here at

the University of Florida, I often see different types of

groups of students. I see, either, students who are playing

hackysack or students who are observing a speaker about

issues of Christianity. I see, often, students supporting

the Hare Krishna meals and I also see students sun bathing

or just having some good time with other friends.

W: Out of all of those observations, do you see diversity at

all? You mentioned a lot of different groups of people,

what would be the predominant race of the people whom you

normally observe?

L: My response to that would be two-fold. To answer your

question exactly in terms of the racial composition, it is

not as racially diverse as one would imagine such a setting,

but in terms of diversity, what comes to mind is moreso the

religious spiritual/political type diversity because of my

reference to Christianity, Hare Krishna and sort of the

nouveau Woodstock-type culture that I see there, so in that

sense, it is somewhat diverse in terms of religious and

spiritual views, but in terms of racial or ethnic diversity,

I am not sure that I would describe it as racially or

ethnically diverse.

W: What are the predominant congregation of people?

L: Primarily, European American. Very few people of color so

to speak, African-American, Latino-American or Asian-

American. Usually, the African-American, Native-American as

well as Latino-American and Asian-Americans are among those

to pass through that area, the observers of this particular


W: So you have never, yourself, witnessed a racial composition

that would be described as a diverse setting on the Plaza of

The Americas in the two years that you have been here?

L: I would say, no, I have not with the exception of a Latino

or a Chicano-American festival that was taking place on the

Plaza. However, as I looked toward the area where the

festival was taking place, I still saw very little in terms

of the Latin-American, Chicano student presence.

W: You mentioned this Woodstock type of description. Could you

tell me? I am a child of the sixties and I know of

Woodstock, but could you be more specific in breaking down

what you mean by Woodstock type of atmosphere?

L: The Woodstock culture or the images from Woodstock as one

speaking from having grown up during the seventies, hippie

type attire, very free-love type of attitude, also not only

European American but also some African-American

participants in the Woodstock and its representation of

peace, unity, love, so to speak. That is what comes to mind

when I think of Woodstock and what it stood for. It seems

as though the young people who are often spending most of

their time throughout the Plaza of The Americas seem to

project that type of image.

W: Are all of these people, from your own observation, students

here at the University of Florida or would you consider them

to be outside of the University community?

L: At first it is really hard to determine whether or not the

students are University of Florida students, but having

spoken firsthand with one of the students, I realized that

many of them were not University of Florida students. I

happened to have conducted class discursion once on an area

of the Plaza of The Americas and learned that the students

who were also occupying the same area were not University of

Florida students.

W: What class do you teach?

L: I teach ENC 1102. English 1102 is the freshmen introductory

course to writing.

W: Why did you choose the Plaza of The Americas as a location

for your class?

L: on this particular day it was really nice outdoors and I

decided to conduct my class discussion on Maya Angeloux's

poem on The Morning which she presented during the

Clinton inauguration. I asked my students where they would

like to conduct this class discussion and most of the

students mentioned the Plaza of The Americas, so we carried


W: Did you know the formal name of the Plaza of The Americas?

If someone said, hey, let us go to the Plaza of The

Americas, would you have known where that place was?

L: To be honest I am awfully confused about the whereabouts of

the Plaza of The Americas. I have heard of it mentioned

several times, but I never had taken notice of exactly

where it was. At this point, I realize exactly where it

was. That it was the area in front of Library West, but

often I never would take notice of exactly where this area


W: You, yourself, personally, have never participated in

listening to some of the evangelists talk or have you

partaken of the food of the Hare Krishna? You look like a

healthy, to-be professor type, do you stop off and share the

food of the Hare Krishna?

L: Actually, I am not very active or supportive of the

activities that take place at the Plaza of The Americas. I

have seen maybe students or faculty members participate with

the Hare Krishna meals and I have also watched students

observe the speakers on issues of Christianity and religion,

but I, myself, have never partaken in any of these

activities. Basically, I am just walking by, that is about


W: You have noticed, obviously, with very nice observational

skills the community at the Plaza of The Americas and you

talked about the lack of African-American students. Can you

tell me where you would say the major congregational area

for African-American students or Latino students or Asian

students is on campus?

L: Without a doubt, the area known as the Set, the area between

Turlington and the computer science building is the area

where most of the African-American students interact with

one another. Often you will find many African-American

students, primarily undergraduate students, interacting and

conversing with their colleagues. At times you will see

African-American sororities and fraternities, presenting

various bits of information about their activities and so

forth. So the Set is where most of the African-American

students can be seem interacting. In terms of Latino-

American and Asian-American students, often you will find

many of the students walking through the Plaza and at times,

meeting on the Set, but I do not know that that is an area

that many of these students frequent like the African-

American students themselves.

W: Where did the term the Set come from and as you learned

about the name for the Plaza of The Americas, how did you

come to know the term the Set because that is in itself an

African-American description because often white, American

students here at the University of Florida have not known in

the interviews that I have conducted, have not known of it

as the Set? Do you have any idea why it is called the Set

or how you came to know it as the Set?

L: During my orientation to the University of Florida in the

Summer of 1994, I was made familiar with the term the Set

from other African-American graduate students who were

informing me of the different settings as you could say on

campus and it was clear that, as I mentioned earlier, most

of the African-American students interacted on the Set so

the answer, basically is from other African-American


W: So it is an informal type of orientation?

L: Definitely.

W: Did they at any time, in your informal orientation, say to

you that the Plaza of The Americas is another area where

students of African descent or Latino descent would


L: Never was there any reference to the Plaza of The Americas

as also an area where the African-American students would


W: Would you describe the Set as an extension of the Plaza of

The Americas?

L: It would not seem appropriate to suggest that the Set was an

extension only because it seems to represent two different

social spheres as I mentioned African-American students

interacting on the Set as well as primarily European-

American students interacting throughout the Plaza of The

Americas. It does not seem to connect in any way.

W: Why is that?

L: I am not sure. I have no idea why.

W: I would hate to use the word segregation but I am going to

go on in that direction. Why do you think that the students

have chosen, both formally and informally, to segregate

themselves or would you even say that the Plaza of The

Americas and the Set or the area in Turlington, there is

another area called the Rock, there is another area called

the Wall? Have you noticed that these areas could be

described as segregated?

L: I would suggest that it is apparent and I have noticed that

before. I have also raised the same question to my students

in my course and I asked them to observe the different

groups or cultures on campus to determine why it is they

feel that the different communities are so segregated.

First, are they and secondly why so. Most of the students

have observed also the same segregation but were not sure

how to respond to the reasons for the continued segregation

of the different groups. It is really apparent, but in

terms of why, it is uncertain.

W: You are also, not only of African-American descent but also

of Thailand descent. Can you tell me where the Asian

students on campus are also normally congregated? Have you


L: I do see several groups of Asian students as I am walking

throughout the campus, but I really cannot locate where the

students interact on a normal basis. I do see, as I say,

Latino-American students, but aside from the Set where

African-American student primarily interact as well as the

Plaza of The Americas where most the European-American

students interact, the Latino-American, Asian-American or

even Native-American students seem to just exist in the

cursory of these two areas. It is hard to locate their


W: Have you also noticed that the Set in itself is segregated?

Have you happened to see that?

L: Actually, within the Set itself, there is definitely a

degree of segregation in the sense that while many of the

African-American students will socialize and interact in the

area closest to the computer science building, closest to

that particular library by that building, the students who

are representing various social organizations will often

have booths out there in the Set but most of these students

will set up closest to Turlington by the Wall closest to

Turlington where the newspapers are. That area closest to

Turlington is where the non-African-American students can be


W: Non-African-American meaning?

L: White students, European-American students, Asian students,

Latino students.

W: What about the area around the Rock? Are you familiar with

the term the Rock?

L: I am not familiar with the area.

W: One of my interviewers said it is a potato-like shaped thing

with benches around. An undergraduate informed me that that

is called the Rock and if one were to say hey Scott please

meet me by the Rock, in fact I saw you on the Set and that

is why I decided to interview you because you were sitting

on the rock. Do you remember?

L: Yes, I remember.

W: Would you say that area is more integrated naturally or are

you aware of its racial composition?

L: That area is more integrated or diverse as compared to the

other area of the Set. The Rock area which we are speaking

of is an area that is pretty popular among graduate students

especially graduate students who study in Turlington. In

terms of whether or not it is somewhat integrated, yes it is

as compared to the other area of the Set.

W: I explained to you the history of the Plaza of The Americas

and basically told you that the political activities that

took place in the sixties and seventies were obviously

vastly different from what is going on today. Do you think,

though, that the Plaza is still a place for political

activity? Have you noticed or participated in any

activities that would be considered political?

L: I would suggest that the Plaza as well as the Set are both

areas in which students seem to conduct various political

activities. I mentioned both in response to your question

because on one hand I mentioned that the Plaza of The

Americas is an area where mostly religious and spiritual

issues are confronted and projected. At the same time, from

my observation I see that on the Set in terms of political

and civic issues, particularly African-American sororities

and fraternities, I see that as an area in which these

political activities are often taking place. So, I see


W: Where do you hang-out on campus when you have time?

L: I seldom hang-out on campus, but when I have time, usually

in the Rock area where you mentioned that you saw me

interacting with other students. I would continue to add

that the reason I do like to hang-out by the Rock area, so

to speak, is because of the interaction between graduate and

undergraduate students as well as interaction of various

ethnic groups. That is something that interests me and I

often am just watching the different groups of students


W: I would like to go back to the Plaza of The Americas again.

That is a place where you mentioned earlier where some

people could hang-out and get some sun, play frisbee, play

hackeysack, get a free meal. Would you say that the people

there are unaware of the fact that the Plaza is not diverse

in terms of its racial composition? You have observed the

people, is there a sense that this is a territorial turf in

like the Set is a territorial turf where people just do not

mix because that is just not where you go? Is there a sense

of that here or is it very informal and very implicit in its

regional location of where the various races hang-out?

L: I am sure that students who interact in the Plaza of The

Americas area are aware of their ethnocentrism as you could

say as well as students who interact on the Set, but in

terms of any questioning of the reasons why there is little

interaction or there is a lack of consideration among

different groups, I am not sure. That is something that is

on their mind.

W: Are there any ways that you could think of where maybe the

university or maybe an article in the Alligator or maybe

someone could bring it to the attention of the larger

population here at the University of Florida that the Plaza

of The Americas is not the hub of a diverse setting of

political consciousness nor is the Set. The Set is diverse

but it is not a political hub where people come together

consciously. Do you have any recommendations or suggestions

as to how we could get students to start to look at these

issues because as you know, in many universities the

dismantlization of affirmative action is starting to take

place and there does not seem to be a political climate

where people are concerned with the richness of why it is

important to be concerned about each other's culture? Do

you have any suggestions on how the students would react or

how to approach this issue to get people to just observe the


L: Perhaps the bast thing to do in terms of trying to raise

consciousness among the students, both the students who

interact at the Set as well as the Plaza, is that you

actually conduct some sort of informational type programming

within the area themselves, the Set and the Plaza of The

Americas. Some sort of, as you might say, diversity fest

could take place. The fest itself could take place on both

the Set as well as the Plaza of The Americas. That perhaps

would be the most striking forum which could raise the

awareness among the students of all who interact between

both groups.

W: Is there anything that you would like to add that we have

not discussed in the interview concerning the Plaza of The

Americas and where students hang-out here at the University

of Florida?

L: I understand from your explanation, the history behind the

Plaza of The Americas, but from my experience here in the

last two years, I have not developed a strong sense of the

Plaza of The Americas as being a central part of the campus

where political activity and transformation should transpire

and it is very interesting that the Plaza of The Americas,

throughout the interview, seems to be made central to the

discussion. I would be interested in hearing the results of

a similar type of interview but perhaps of students in terms

of the Set. If the Set was made central to the interviewing

and to ask non-African-American students of their opinion of

the politics and the political activism that they observe on

the Set, that would be interesting.

W: Scott, can you tell me what are you going to do after you

finish your doctorate degree here at the University of

Florida? What are some of your plans after receiving your


L: My immediate goals include teaching at a university level,

perhaps in Florida although I am not limiting myself to

Florida. I also would like to write and conduct research in

terms of the areas of Asian-American, African-American

cultural studies. Beyond that I am not sure of what else I

would like to get into.

W: Thank you for agreeing to be a part of this project. You

are the last of my interviewees and I surely think that the

information that you have given me has given me a rounded

perspective of how to really look at the Plaza of The

Americas as well as the Set. You have stated earlier that

you did not think that the Set was an extension of the Plaza

and I just want to, I guess, have you say one last thing and

that is, if we were to somehow engineer a program to get

people to talk with each other, get people to explore each

others culture, how do you think we might go about doing

that? Just one simple idea.

L: That is a tough question. The only thing that comes to

mind, as I mentioned earlier, is some sort of public forum

for dialogue and conscious raising and that would be a

series of activities, whatever they might be, cultural,

intercultural type activities taking place in both areas.

W: You mentioned the diversity fest.

L: Right, something like that. Other than that, I do not know

of anything else aside from the apparent cultural

instruction and so forth, but that is something that

requires students to interact with the administration and

there is a whole dialogue that has to take place in terms of

the necessity for enforcing such teaching in the classrooms.

W: I asked that question because you have a very diverse

approach to teaching. In our pre-interview you talked about

the various aspects of diversity in your teaching and the

kind of things that you have exposed your students to.

Would you say that is a starting part?

L: Definitely, that is definitely a forum in which we can begin

to engage in such issues and I definitely do attempt to do

so in my own course even though the courses I have taught,

writing as well as literature, may not require conversations

on such issues as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class,

religion and so forth, but I use that particular forum to

raise such issues, to challenge the students to think about

their own opinions, their own politics on such issues. That

is definitely an ideal forum, unfortunately, I know that not

everyone places emphasis on such "multi-cultural" issues in

their courses but that is definitely an ideal forum because

it requires them to confront these issues in a serious


W: Scott, thank you so much for the interview and I hope that

maybe we can implement some of these ideas when we become

professors in the academy in the near future.

L: Thank you very much.

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