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Making another attempt to speak at UF, Richard Spencer asks for Oct. 19

The University of Florida


The University of Florida



As the University of Florida battens down the hatches in advance of Hurricane Irma, white nationalist Richard Spencer has made another request to speak at UF.

The potential date is Thursday, Oct. 19. Spencer has requested that the event be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the university's Phillips Center.

He and his National Policy Institute initially tried to rent space for Sept. 12. UF denied that request in the days after Charlottesville, citing the potential for violence. After Spencer threatened an immiment lawsuit, the university said the denial was never intended to be a permanent ban, and that the school would welcome another request for a later date.

"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," read the school's statement, released Thursday. Officials said they will once again assess security costs, which Spencer's group would bear, and that law enforcement will be heavily involved in a safety plan. 

Leaders stressed that the date isn't official until a contract has been signed and all costs have been paid.

Below are the university's full statement and a statement by Gary Edinger, the Gainesville attorney representing Spencer:

UF Statement Regarding Latest Development on National Policy Institute Request

Sept. 7, 2017

While the University of Florida administration continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma, we want to share the latest developments in the National Policy Institute’s effort to schedule a speaking event for white supremacist Richard Spencer.

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. 

We have 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 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.

Safety remains our top priority, whether it is for this potential event or the threat of a hurricane, and we will take appropriate preparatory actions. For now, the urgency of Hurricane Irma requires all of us to stay focused on readying for the potential impact of this storm. We urge each of you to monitor weather reports and announcements from local governments. UF updates will be posted on and on UF’s information line at 866-UF-FACTS (1-866-833-2287).

Statement by Gary Edinger:

My clients are pleased to announced that the University of Florida has agreed to reserve the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for a speech by Richard Spencer to take place on October 19th between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. There are some small details to work out in terms of security costs but the parties appear to have a meeting of the minds as to what costs may be constitutionally imposed on the speaker and those which must be borne by society at large. My clients expect that a formal contract will be signed within a few days - weather permitting!

This was no doubt a sensitive and difficult issue for the University of Florida, but all citizens should be pleased that the First Amendment was ultimately respected.

A copy of correspondence sent to UF this morning documenting the arrangement is attached. UF's General Counsel responded by e-mail shortly before 3:00 today confirming that "a speaking event in the Phillips Center on Oct 19 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. is workable. We will move forward on getting the parties connected with the right individuals and documentation for next steps."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 7, 2017 5:09pm]


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