Department of Buy Offs & Ripoffs
Iguana staff
January 2000

Florida Rock, in an attempt to burnish its corporate image, sent out a fascinating one-page advertisement with the Gainesville Sun in early January offering one $3,000 grant a month this year to local non-profit organizations that apply.

Florida Rock does need to spruce up its image after it poured massive out of town funds into narrowly defeating a clean air ordinance that would have forced its new cement plant near Newberry to clean up its emissions or ship out. Florida Rock's ads during the campaign charged that the clean air ordinance didn't go far enough in requiring clean air in Alachua County. That, and the money, successfully torpedoed the ordinance.

After agressively fighting for their freedom to pollute, Florida Rock now wants to "give back" to the community. "This partnership with civic minded organizations is one of Florida Rock Industries many endeavors of giving back to the community," the brochure states. Or perhaps they're trying to buy the silence of the many non-profit health and environmental groups which opposed them. For three thousand dollars a month they think we'll say, "Gee, my kid's got asthma because of the plant, but I'll forgive that because they gave money to the Lung Association." Dear Florida Rock, why don't you put the money into cleaning up your emissions before you inflict them on us?

The second big public relations move to draw our attention here at the Department of Buy offs and Ripoffs was the new sponsoring lineup of Take Back the Night this year. The traditional nightime march against violence against women will be held Wednesday, January 19, on the Plaza of Americas, 7-10 p.m. sponsored by CARE (UF's official campus anti-rape organization), UF Student Government and, you guessed it, the University Police Department. Only it may not be a march. And it's now called, "Take Back our Rights." What rights, the right to remain silent?

UPD has come under heavy fire from feminists and others for in February arresting a woman who alleged she was raped at a party at the Delta Chi fraternity house. UPD did no investigation of her charge, but arrested her after they viewed a videotape she told them the fraternity brothers made of the incident. On the tape, the fraternity members call it rape. Feminists and many others have looked at the tape and can't believe the cops didn't think it was rape. UF/Santa Fe Community College Campus NOW picketed UPD, demanding that they investigate the charge of rape, rather than the rape victim.

Then in September UF caught flak for concealing the real number of rape reports on campus, subterfuge that Campus NOW had been alleging since 1991. A suit filed by Security on Campus, Inc. in the fall, revealed that the real rate of rape reports was much higher than UF claimed. UF had only revealed the rapes reported to UPD, not those reported to other police departments or university officials.

So now UPD is trying to get the good guy award and make UF look tough on rape. Some might look at this as a sign of progress, that UPD is responding to pressure. True, but until they actually arrest and charge rapists (rather than women who report rape) their co-sponsorship is clearly just another public relations move.

previous article [current issue] next article
Search | Archives | Calendar | Directory | About / Subscriptions |

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional eXTReMe Tracker