CINCINNATI (AP) — The University of Cincinnati board of trustees on Tuesday condemned hate while defending a decision to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus, a planned appearance the school president says is stirring fear.
The trustees unanimously passed a resolution at their meeting “reaffirming our core values,” saying they believe in upholding the First Amendment and the fundamental role of free speech at a public university,
“For higher education to maintain its pride of place as the marketplace of ideas, we have a responsibility as teachers, scholars, learners and trustees to drive out bad ideas with better ones,” their statement said. The board also denounced prejudice and racism, saying, “Hate has no place on our campus or in our world.”
UC recently informed Spencer associates that they could rent space for an appearance.
Ohio State University declined a request for a Spencer appearance, drawing a federal lawsuit Sunday from Michigan attorney Kyle Bristow. An attorney for Ohio State stated in a letter that while the school “values freedom of speech,” a Spencer appearance would represent a “substantial risk to public safety.”
UC President Neville Pinto emphasized at Tuesday’s meeting that Spencer wasn’t invited by anyone with the University of Cincinnati, and he pledged that the safety and security of the campus community will be the top priority.
“This request to speak is provoking fear and unease for our community, especially those who are direct targets of his hate, prejudice and racism,” said Pinto, adding that the school is working with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Authorities estimated security costs at $600,000 for Spencer’s October 19 appearance at the University of Florida, where counterprotesters far outnumbered Spencer supporters and booed him off the stage as police officers in riot gear stood watch.
Bristow said in a statement Sunday said the UC event will likely occur early next year.
Bristow successfully sued Auburn University in Alabama to allow Spencer to speak there and has filed lawsuits against Michigan State University and Penn State University that are pending. Spencer was a scheduled speaker at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August that led to deadly violence when a man struck and killed a protester with his car.
Spencer uses the term “alt-right” to describe a mix of racism, white nationalism and anti-immigration views. He has advocated for an “ethno-state” that would be a “safe space” for white people.
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