Save the Racks

The Independent Florida Alligator and its signature orange news racks have been an integral part of UF campus life since the newspaper became independent from the university almost 40 years ago. The Alligator focuses on issues that matter to the UF community and strives to maintain the highest level of journalistic integrity.

UF has demanded the Alligator remove 19 of its orange news racks from campus by Aug. 15. If the Alligator wants to maintain its current presence at UF, it would have to lease space in university-owned black modular racks and sign a licensing agreement. This would jeopardize the Alligator’s independence as well as its readership.

The orange racks are the best way for the Alligator to stay independent and be easily accessible to students. By forcing the paper into university-owned racks, UF is able to control the Alligator’s campus distribution, which means the university could eventually force the newspaper off campus. The licensing fee is also an unfair tax on the paper. UF is forcing the Alligator to pay to distribute a free paper that serves the student body.

We at the Alligator ask you to support us in our fight to keep the orange news racks on campus. You can sign a petition to save the racks here. We thank you for your support.

View the Alligator’s special edition coverage here.

60 Responses to “Save the Racks”
  1. Colin Whitworth says:

    UF should not remove these racks or even be involved in determining how publications are distributed on campus. The university is a public space, and UF only needs to worry about educating students, not deciding who can distribute on campus. This is a terrible idea and Dr. Machen should be ashamed.

  2. Meghan Shirey says:

    Leave the racks! I support UF on many fronts and am really disappointed by this move, especially in these economic times when newspapers are struggling tremendously. Please let me know if I should move my donations to the Alligator instead.

  3. Jason Davis says:

    A money-grubbing, passive-aggressive act by the university, certainly intended to stem the free-flow of information that the Alligator and other publications provide, under the guise of aesthetics. If the university’s decision is indeed driven by appearance, let the university pay for the racks. Otherwise, it is stepping dangerously close to First Amendment territory. Really, UF, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

  4. Laura Estes-Swilley says:

    Save the racks!

  5. Joe Newman says:

    The university has always had a love-hate relationship with the Alligator. And if it had its way, it would make the paper the mouthpiece of the administration. This is blatant attempt by UF administrators to regulate free speech on campus, if not part of a long-range plan to silence their harshest critic.

  6. Deborah Price says:

    The Alligator is an INDEPENDENT paper, not funded by the university. Why should they have to pay for circulation?

  7. Gerald Green B.S.Adv '72 says:

    Seems like the least the University could do to help support the honor of having one of the premier Journalism Schools in America.

  8. Miguel says:


  9. Shauna says:

    Save the racks!

  10. Daniel Seco says:

    Orange racks on racks on racks!

  11. Save the racks! The campus deserves a robust publication with student voices. Keeping the racks is the way to do it.

  12. Save the racks — obviously.

    I don’t know if the University of Florida is just trying to find any possible way to make ends meet or if they just want to bury and hide The Alligator a little more.

    The paper is free. It’s wonderful. Let’s not ruin a good thing.

  13. Carly Felton Cooper says:

    Really? Who will read it then? That’s absurd. Definitely need to save the racks!

  14. Andrea Adelson JM '99 says:

    As a proud Alligator alum, I am appalled the university wants to try and squelch the BEST independent student-run newspaper in the NATION. A newspaper that has churned out countless prominent journalists across the country — journalists who are proud to call themselves UF alums. Not any more. Shame on you, UF. SAVE THE RACKS!

  15. Jeannine Gage, Alligator alum says:

    This is just another in a string of ploys UF administration has tried to get The Alligator under its thumb, Fight the power, save the racks!

  16. Chelsea says:

    Definitely don’t agree with this. Save the racks!!

  17. Phil Davis says:

    Even if it’s not an evil attempt at censorship (which I think it is), since when are college campuses supposed to look homogenized like Disney. Bad thinking all the way around. Shame on UF.

  18. TJ Johnson says:

    Pretty shocked to hear about this. Save the racks.

  19. Ron Sachs says:

    Come on, President Machen and leadership team. Let’s be smart here. There’s an opportunity now for the UF administration to correct a mistake BEFORE completing it….and, to win some applause, instead of generating enmity from a deep and loyal community of Alligator readers, supporters, former editors and staffers and an awakened Gator Nation devoted to this proud, historic newspaper tradition. Don’t dis a giant that isn’t sleeping — but whose reach is national and includes accomplished former staffers and their friends. The Alligator deserves it own identity, prominently displayed — as always — at UF. Let’s not banish or relegate it to obscurity. This is an illogical solution to a non-problem — and if it is executed, a national controversy will be spawned. Intervene, President Machen, and hear the praise of a grateful Gator Nation.

  20. ShouldHaveGoneToUCF says:

    UF blows and the Alligator is pretty decent. If UF wants to suck more, then by all means enforce your shitty policy.

  21. Concerned citizen says:

    Is the College of Journalism once again silent on an issue pertinent to its faculty and students?

  22. Jerry says:

    Save the Alligator

  23. Matthew Pharis says:

    That’s completely ridiculous! I hope that UF gets their head out of their ass and realizes what they’re doing.

  24. Joe College says:

    What a complete waste of time and resources. Is anyone threatened by the Alligator or the Alligator’s orange newspaper racks? Someone (or someone’s money) must really be, otherwise we wouldn’t be reading about this complete non-issue becoming an issue for UF. With all the problems the University has, they have to pick on the Alligator? Sad.

  25. Rafael says:

    Our country’s universities have become as corrupt as our firms and corporations. School Admins: Remember that when u look at your children/grandchildren in the eye and explain to them why their college degree is worthless.

  26. AlsaceL says:

    another poorly thought out move by machen/uf–there is no economic reason to do this–the real reason is to punish the alligator. But, not surprising from a poorly administered UF–many lightweights working in that group.

  27. Shelley Jones says:

    This is ridiculous greed. Save the racks!

  28. John Skelly says:

    All ‘institutions’ want to control their environment, especially the the written and spoken environment. UF’s spokeswoman does her best to put lipstick on this pig, that’s her job. Anybody who accepts these rationales (hurricane safety???) is quite without reasonable judgment. This is just what it seems, a powerful entity doing its best to ensure its ease of operation without the annoying pestering of a free press of knowledgable writers who are not (currently) subject to their control. You can bet that if UF gets away with this, their next step will be to hold the implied threat to ‘suspend’ Alligator’s ‘license’ to distribute on campus, over the heads of these disrespectful kids.

  29. Save the racks! Save the racks! Save the racks!!

  30. Manipulative politics and an affront to freedom of speech.

  31. Jen Snyder says:

    Save the RACKS!!!

  32. Sam Caruso says:

    Save the Racks!!!

  33. Rich N says:

    The University is a publicly funded institution paid for by the taxes of Florida residents. They have no right to demand a fee to lease space for an independent and free publication. I assume they are demanding the same fee for the Gainesville Sun, St. Pete Times, Orlando Sentinet, and Miami Herald?

    – UF Alum Class of 1992

  34. Jackie Hatcher says:

    LEAVE THE RACKS They are not bothering anyone. Hey it free paper.Let it stay free.

  35. NedRacine says:

    get rid of the racks because of possible storm damage???? seriously???

  36. John Laibson says:

    Save The Racks!

  37. Wendell Rora says:


  38. Tiffany says:

    Save the Racks!!

    College of Journalism, Class of ’03

  39. courtney utz says:

    Come on man

  40. Tony Katsulos says:

    Here’s a compromise. Keep the racks on campus but paint them green to remind us of the university administration’s never-ending envy of The Alligator.

  41. Emily H says:

    Save the racks! I hate not being able to find Campus Talk Magazine or the Alligator as easy as I used to. .

  42. Richard Sutton says:

    The modular units do not fit the paper, the doors do not close properly when full of newspapers. The modular units leak when it rains.
    The current racks can hold up to 500 to 600 newspapers, the new modular units can’t accommodate that many. In order to hold that many UF wants the Alligator to pay for 2 section. What the alligator is now paying less than a hundred dollars, UF wants 200.00 for the same space, and when it rains they are wasted. NOW THAT IS GREEN, but only money green not environmentally friendly!

  43. bonthrasher says:

    Please allow the student newspaper to continue distributing on campus in racks for free. The administrative actions being considered amount to a prior restraint on the student press there.

  44. Richard Moreno says:

    Save the Racks!

  45. Dr David Trax says:

    The alligator is a very special forum…always has been and always will be. As with the GOLDEN ARCHES of McDonalds, the ORANGE BOXES are historically significant to UF and have played a part in the lives of graduates throughout the years. It is sad to see that those with power at UF don’t have the same sense of loyalty, passion or respect for the Alligator and it’s BEAUTIFUL ORANGE BOXES. I remember the good times and bad times while I was a student at UF. My main forum for news was the Alligator. From 1991-1993 I was also a photojournalist for the Alligator. And my first stop in the morning was at the orange box….but those are my memories, not Pres. Machen’s or some of his staff, who are not GATORS. He didn’t walk the halls of UF as a young man. So I can understand that he doesn’t share the sentiment that the UF ALUMNI may have for the Alligator and it’s boxes. I will end with this. If the freedom of the alligator to express itself on UF campus is unfairly regulated, I will regulate my donations to UF accordingly.

  46. Alan Garner says:

    I don’t know why the University wants to do this, but if it really is JUST because they are a hazard during hurricanes, then surely the Alligator can find 19 volunteers to “adopt” a box, and be responsible for securing it before a storm. Of course, the storm danger line is probably just an excuse to hide whatever their real motives are.

    Save the racks!

  47. Jacob says:

    New to UF, but happy to have such access to a great independent news resource. Long live the orange racks!

  48. Matthew Boedy says:

    President Machen,
    I am a graduate of our university (JM 2001) and also part of the nationwide organization known as ‘Alligator Alumni’ – those of us who worked at the Independent Florida Alligator, an institution you and our university know well. I am writing today in support of that institution and the egregious mandate from the university that it alone determine how news is distributed on campus. I have read the university’s rule and find all of its reasons specious and without merit.
    For one: weather-related. The racks are not in any danger of hurting anyone because as a good community citizen the Alligator sees to it that its racks are removed or tied down prior to heavy storms.
    Two: the aesthetic. To argue that ‘similarity’ is equal to ‘good’ is not only debatable, but if applied to other topics (the racial mix on campus) would prove flatly incoherent.
    I find it tyrannical that a public institution demand such racks and then demand that news organizations rent such space from its owners. I’ll leave it to legal experts to argue this as an unfair tax on the paper, but I will add that such a tax adds unneeded bureaucratic non-sense to the maintenance of news racks. That is, the Alligator has been paying for the maintenance of its own racks since they were installed. Yes, the university should identify and ban those corporate citizens that don’t maintain their racks, but to lump such groups with the Alligator is pure fantasy, let alone insulting.
    I find it nonsensical that your proposal aims at “objective” standards for placing these racks, but the reasons set forth for the policy are highly debatable. Lastly, while the policy does allow for placement of non-modular racks and many of its regulations are already met by the Alligator, the particular regulation that such racks “be painted or colored in a manner that does not include exterior wording or symbols, but may include the official name or logo of the publisher for identification purposes at the publisher’s option” is a back-end method of making such racks into the modular ones. If you allow non-modular racks, why mandate the exterior symbols? Have you had a problem with news organizations using words other than their name? Or this policy aimed at some other group – and like the overreaching it clearly is – includes all groups in a swift rebuke?
    I find it intolerable that an institution of higher education who agreed to a study about the effects of such a policy won’t allow such a study – performed by one of its own faculty – to finish before applying this profoundly short-sighted policy.
    Lastly, a lot has been said about branding in defense of the Alligator in those news outlets that have pushed for the end of this policy. Imagine if the university were told where and how it could brand itself – what would happen the Gator Nation then? The Alligator is an independent voice to that nation – for its good. Make no mistake, this policy will lessen that voice. Such a move has been tried before by other parties. Yet in the beginning it was the university itself that championed the independence of the Alligator (and in many ways always has). Now look at what the university – your university, my university, our university – has become.
    I ask that you rescind this curiously thoughtless policy and write a regulation that makes sense, aims at real problems, and allows for the fullest independence of an institution such as the Alligator. Without such an institution, our university can’t progress. Without such a brand on campus, without its iconic orange news racks, all of us suffer.

    Matthew Boedy

  49. Todd says:

    What an utter waste of time for the University to spend time on removing the racks. My hands still have black print from reading the Alligator 10 years ago. I like it that way.

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