Statement on Richard Spencer at the University of Florida
Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, came to the University of Florida (UF) to speak in October 2017. The university initially denied Spencer’s request to speak, citing security risks, but was threatened with a lawsuit. In a compromise, it agreed to allow Spencer to speak at a later date. In the interval, the university published various statements reaffirming its core principles, strenuously denouncing Spencer’s views, advising students opposed to Spencer’s visit not to give him the spotlight he was seeking, and creating ample opportunities for counterprogramming and counter-speech.
Excerpt from President Kent Fuchs’s Statement (October 10, 2017)
“No one at our university invited Mr. Spencer, nor is anyone at UF sponsoring this event. UF has been clear and consistent in its denunciation of all hate speech and racism, and in particular the racist speech and white-nationalist values of Mr. Spencer. I personally find the doctrine of white supremacy abhorrent and denounce all forms of racism and hate.”
What we like about this statement
- Unequivocally conveys that although Spencer would be speaking in a university facility, the spirit of the institution would not be on his side.
- Explains that the First Amendment prevents the institution from disinviting the speaker.
- Clearly distinguishes between giving a speaker a platform and endorsing a speaker’s views.
- Promotes counter-speech while still encouraging students who were upset about the speech not to play into Spencer’s effort to provoke and gain media attention.
Statement on Milo Yiannopoulos at New York University