Wednesday, August 16, 2017

UF refuses white supremacist Richard Spencer's request to speak on campus

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 10:58 AM

The University of Florida has refused a request by white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak on campus on Sept. 12, citing "serious concerns for safety."

UF President Kent Fuchs said the decision was made after the violent events in Charlottesville where three people died during a white supremacist rally last weekend. Spencer was at the center of the white nationalist rallies in Virginia. Spencer leads the National Policy Institute, which requested the space on campus for a speaking event and describes itself as an "independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity and future of people of European descent in the United States." Fuchs said the decision was also partially influenced by posts on social media for similar violence in Gainesville, reportedly saying, "The Next Battlefield is in Florida."

"I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for," Fuchs said in a statement. "That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury – not the words or ideas – has caused us to take this action."

University regulations allow Spencer's group and other non-university organizations to reserve space on campus as long as they provide rental expenses and security costs.

Spencer's speaking event at Texas A&M University on Sept. 11 has also been canceled. The Gainesville Sun reports one of Spencer's supporters has already threatened to sue UF over the decision. The supporter, Cameron Padgett, has already successfully sued Auburn University after they tried to stop the group from speaking at the school. 

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