UM News Briefs: Operation Heavy Lift, Hug the Lake and Trans Day of Visibility

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

Note from the news editors: UM News Briefs are a new segment from The Miami Hurricane. News briefs provide a weekly snapshot of life at the University of Miami, in Miami and sometimes around the state, country or world. Stay up to date with UM News Briefs.


Volunteers needed for Hug the Lake 2023

The Butler Center for Service and Leadership is looking for volunteers for its annual Hug the Lake event. During Hug the Lake, members of the University of Miami community join hands around Lake Osceola in recognition of Earth Day and in appreciation of the campus’ environment.

Students interested in being a site leader at this event can apply to volunteer at this link. Volunteers should be prepared to serve from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. There is a mandatory in-person training on Wednesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. required for all volunteers.

American Cancer Society Fundraiser

The Butler Center will be raising money for the American Cancer Society at Relay for Life on April 14 from 4 to 7 p.m. on the Foote Green. With a mechanical bull, petting zoo, food trucks and games, Relay for Life hopes to put the “fun” in fundraiser.

Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser that celebrates cancer survivors and caregivers, remembers those who have passed away and fights back against cancer.

Those who cannot make the event can but would still like to donate can do so at this link. Donations to Relay for Life help fund cancer research and patient care programs.


Miami declares Tran Day of Visibility

Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach officials expressed solidarity with the transgender community by declaring March 31 a countywide Transgender Day of Visibility. During a ceremony on the same day, city officials and community members recognized the day on a local level after Joe Biden’s national announcement.

The city unveiled a memorial plaque that recognized the November 2022 dedication of a tree to Trans Day of Remembrance, located at the northwest corner of Pride Park on Meridian Avenue and 19th Street.

The dedication of the plaque was established in partnership with TransSocial and The McKenzie Project alongside Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins, Miami Beach Commissioners David Richardson and Alex Fernandez, and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.


Florida officials bust Home Depot theft ring spanning 16 counties

Six people were accused of stealing equipment from Home Depot stores across Florida and selling them on social media.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the suspects arrested in “Operation Heavy Lift” were charged with grand theft and scheming to defraud for allegedly failing to return equipment rented from Home Depot stores in 16 counties.

With 50 alleged thefts, Home Depot now faces almost $600,000 in losses. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told WFLA News Channel 8 that all 61 pieces of equipment were stolen, and only 10 have been recovered. Equipment stolen includes utility loaders, stump grinders, trenchers, mini-excavators and trailers.

The Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution has taken on the case because the alleged thefts happened in over a dozen counties: Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Manatee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, St. Johns and St. Lucie.

Biden proposal prohibits outright ban of trans student athletes

The Biden administration proposed on Thursday a rule change that would forbid schools from establishing outright bans on transgender athletes from teams that align with their gender identities. The proposal provides flexibility for fairness and other exceptions.

The enacting of a ban would be a violation of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding.

Under the proposal, elementary school students would be able to participate in school sports consistent with their gender identity. For older students, questions of fairness and physicality could come into play.