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Their assaulter isn’t on the graduation program, but UNF never told them

Content warning: This article discusses sexual violence. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at (800) 656-4673. For more resources, visit here.

A University of North Florida student who was sexually assaulted in their dorm room by another student in 2021 was facing the possibility of walking on Friday in the same graduation ceremony as their assaulter, despite months of asking the university to make a change.

But, the commencement ceremony program, published Wednesday, doesn’t list their assaulter as attending at all. 

It’s what the student victim was hoping for—but they never heard anything from UNF.

For months, H.—a nonbinary student who a university investigation confirmed was sexually assaulted in their dorm room— pushed for accommodations at the ceremony. A university investigation that concluded in mid-October confirmed the assault took place, and they were just looking to finish their college career.

Just 48 hours before they were scheduled to cross the stage at their commencement ceremony, they received a call from the university’s Enrollment Services, with school officials saying they were granting them accommodations to avoid having them cross paths with the man who sexually assaulted them. Spinnaker is not naming the alleged assaulter because no criminal charges have been filed. 

But unbeknownst to them, it turned out that the assaulter wouldn’t be there at all—a development university officials either were unaware of or didn’t mention to H. 

Less than 24 hours before graduation, Spinnaker found the commencement ceremony program published online. It didn’t list the victim’s assaulter. Responding to direct questions, UNF told Spinnaker that the program was published Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., before the university granted the victim new safety measures.

It’s unclear when the man’s intent to attend changed between the school’s live hearing where officials told H. he would be walking, and when the program was published Wednesday.

UNF confirmed to Spinnaker that no student has been added nor taken off the program since Wednesday. UNF would not confirm whether H.’s assaulter was enrolled as a current student as of Thursday night.

But H. said no one bothered to tell them the news along the way. 

Spinnaker was the first to inform H. that the program did not contain their assaulter’s name despite Enrollment Services calling them about accommodations to avoid their assaulter more than 10 hours after the program was posted online. 

Now, H. says they’re relieved but wonder why things couldn’t have been resolved sooner to prevent unnecessary emotional trauma. 

“I was never made aware that he would not be walking at graduation and it caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety surrounding the whole thing,” H. told Spinnaker Thursday night. 

A university spokesperson declined to comment on the entire situation. 

This is a developing story.

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About the Contributor
Carter Mudgett, Reporter
Carter Mudgett is a University of North Florida student majoring in multimedia journalism. He was Spinnaker's editor-in-chief from August 2021 to December 2023. Carter led Spinnaker to be awarded a 2023 Online Pacemaker Award, and most recently placed second in the Society of Professional Journalists's Sunshine State Awards for "Best Coverage of LGBT Issues" in the college category. Backed by a passion for creative storytelling and accurate reporting, Carter typically covers education, gender and race issues.

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