UF denies request for White Nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus
- Author: Ismael Montgomery Aug 17, 2017,
Aug 17, 2017, 7:33
Kent Fuchs said this morning the decision was made "after assessing risks to the campus, community and law enforcement".
Spencer, who coined the term "alt-right" and envisions a white "ethnostate", had initially wanted to hold a "White Lives Matter" rally on the campus of Texas A&M, but that move was nixed by campus administrators there.
The white supremacist group has requested space on the Gainesville campus for an event on September 12, with Spencer as the featured guest.
But the appropriate response to hateful speech and threats of violence is not denying the speakers the right to speak, particularly at a public university. "But if they have opened the university's space for the public to use for meetings or speakers, then he literally can't say no simply because he disagrees with someone who asks to use the space", Tom Julin, an attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, told The News Service of Florida.
The state's most prestigious university ought to be able to learn lessons from Charlottesville and provide an opportunity for even a white nationalist as vile as Spencer to speak.
"Should the National Policy Institute and Mr. Padgett decide to challenge us, legally, we are prepared to vigorously defend this decision", she said. As our record shows, this university does not determine who can access public spaces based on what they think or say. In a statement earlier this week, Fuchs explained that the proposed event would have featured Spencer.
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Mr Spencer was holding the press conference following violent clashes between white supremacist groups and anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed.
Fuchs said no student or university-affiliated groups were sponsoring the event.
Despite the seriousness of Charlottesville, barring Spencer's views from being expressed on campus in the future "is a very hard position to sustain", he said.
James Alex Fields Jr., a young man who was said to idolize Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in high school, has been charged with killing a woman by slamming a auto into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally Sunday in Charlottesville. He also called President Trump's condemnation of white supremacy "vapid nonsense". Stone has defended Spencer's right to free speech while condemning his white nationalist ideas as "vile".
The institute contacted the university to reserve space for Spencer to speak in September.
A neo-Nazi website that helped promote the gathering said there will be more events soon.
"While it is okay to breathe, and celebrate now, we must think of the future", Love said.