The University of Florida is evaluating a request from the National Policy Institute to schedule a speaking event on campus for its president, white supremacist Richard Spencer, and is now considering a possible date of Oct. 19.
UF remained firm in its decision to deny space for an event on Sept. 12. However, this group has made a request for a new date. As a public institution, UF is required by law to make a good faith effort to provide options for a reasonable date, time and campus venue, no matter how much we detest the points of views expressed. As with any event, we also have a responsibility to assess safety and security risks, and will continue to do so until the event.
The university has set Thursday, Oct. 19 as the possible event date. We will now begin with the university’s regular protocols for evaluating the risks and associated costs. The university has been meeting daily for the past month with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies on a comprehensive campus and community security plan. The Oct. 19 date is not official until we are satisfied that we can avert safety risks, and that a formal facilities contract is signed and all appropriate rental and security costs have been paid.
UF deplores Spencer’s and the National Policy Institute’s rhetoric and views, which run counter to those of this institution. We also acknowledge that many of our students, faculty and staff are disproportionately impacted by their racism.
While this event is not in any way affiliated with the university, UF supports the constitutional right to free speech, and our role as a public university includes legal obligations to allow a wide range of viewpoints to be expressed by external groups – even when they are contrary to the core values of our university.