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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