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Florida graduates who were yanked off staged unmoved by president's apology

Posted at 10:17 PM, May 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-09 06:02:55-04

GAINESVILLE, FL (WCJB/CNN) - Imagine working four years for a degree and wanting to celebrate the moment you get that diploma on stage, but someone takes that moment away from you.

Two University of Florida graduates feel that way after last weekend's commencement ceremonies.

"I had planned to do a dance on stage and celebrate this joyous occasion," Nafeesah Attah explained.

Attah can be seen on video being pushed across the stage before she has the chance to salute her sorority at the school.

"He pushed me forward and then I kind of lost my footing a little bit and then I also lost my cap in the process of it," she recalled.

Oliver Telusma, another one of the graduates who was pushed at Saturday's graduation, received an apology from University president Kent Fuchs in his voice mail.

"I'm just appalled that we did this to you. I personally apologize that this happened at the very time that we all should be celebrating your accomplishments." Fuchs said in his apology.

"I think his response is too little, too late, very reactionary," Telusma said.

Attah pointed out that Fuchs was sitting on stage but didn't do anything to intervene.

Fuchs said on Sunday it won't happen again.

"I want you all, our students to know, that we've changed that practice and we also want each one of you to know that we celebrate you. Your graduation and your accomplishments," Fuchs said.

There is a video of what looks like a white woman being pushed as well. But Attah says the man was more aggressive with minority students.

"I definitely feel like a lot more black students were targeted in this than white students, who did other moves such as backflipping or taking selfies on stage but didn't receive the same aggressive treatment," Attah said.

"Looking back after the fact, it's like kind of embarrassing that that's my memory of my college commencement here at UF," Telusma added.

University representatives aren't saying who the faculty member involved is.

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