U of Florida Tentatively Will Allow Richard Spencer to Speak

September 8, 2017

The University of Florida tentatively will allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus in October, a reverse on its initial refusal.

The university blasted Spencer at multiple points in a statement Thursday, but said as a public institution it was required to try to find him a time and place to speak. It has set Oct. 19 as the possible date for his talk.

Spencer helped found and now is a leader in the “alt-right” movement, characterized by white supremacist and racist views. He was a visible figure during the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists both marched on the University of Virginia campus and the city.

Following the unrest, University of Florida – along with other colleges and universities across the country – refused the request from Spencer and his group, the National Policy Institute, citing possible safety concerns akin to Charlottesville.

The university said has met daily with local, state and federal law enforcement to discuss a security plan and will now determine the security risks and costs of such a speech.  It stressed that the date is unofficial until a contract is signed and those risks can be averted.

“UF deplores Spencer’s and the National Policy Institute’s rhetoric and views, which run counter to those of this institution. We also acknowledge that many of our students, faculty and staff are disproportionately impacted by their racism,” the statement reads.

“While this event is not in any way affiliated with the university, UF supports the constitutional right to free speech, and our role as a public university includes legal obligations to allow a wide range of viewpoints to be expressed by external groups – even when they are contrary to the core values of our university.”

Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University and Texas A&M University have also turned Spencer down. A Georgia State University student has sued Michigan State in federal court on Spencer’s behalf to try to assure he can appear there.

A similar lawsuit, by the same plaintiff, was successful at Auburn University, which tried to block a speech by Spencer, though a judge ruled it could not. 

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