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Michigan May Allow White Supremacist to Speak

November 22, 2017

After a special meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, the university announced late Tuesday that it would permit -- if certain conditions are met -- the white supremacist Richard Spencer to appear on campus. Spencer has been pushing to appear on campus and threatening to sue if he is turned away. Some public universities, in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., at a rally Spencer helped organize, have turned him down.

A statement from the university cited its legal obligations as a public institution not to deny access to campus based on the ideas of a speaker, however hateful those ideas may be. But the statement said that the university had an obligation to protect students, and would insist that arrangements for any appearance ensure student safety. If that can't happen, the university would reject Spencer's request, the university said.

Mark Schlissel, president of the university, said in the statement, "When I accepted the presidency of this great university three and a half years ago, I did so in part based on my appreciation and respect for our shared values -- that we can’t be excellent without being diverse and that all individuals regardless of their background deserve full inclusion in our community and an equal opportunity to thrive. We now face a very difficult test of our ability to uphold these values. This is a test we did not welcome, but it’s one that we must face together."

A statement from Mark Bernstein, a regent, said, "The only thing worse than Richard Spencer being on our campus is stopping him from being on our campus. We could do the easy thing. Others have. We could ban Richard Spencer. Everyone would celebrate. The board would be cheered. President Schlissel would be applauded. But we would be dancing on our own grave."

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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