UM students to protest Richard Spencer visit

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Some University of Michigan students plan to hold activities on campus to protest a possible speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer on campus.

In this Dec. 6, 2016, file photo, Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism, speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas.

One group, called Stop Spencer at the University of Michigan, has scheduled several of them for this week, including a 6 p.m. Tuesday event where people can share their opinions about Spencer, a student walkout at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday and a day-long student strike on Thursday, according to its Facebook page.

They're using the hashtag #StopSpencer on social media.

"This is going to be a week of action," said Gabriella Santiago-Romero, 25, a first-year grad student at UM's school of social work who is helping line up speakers for Tuesday's event. "We're trying to get the school to dis-invite Spencer from speaking."

She said many of the people behind organizing the events are minorities who feel they are marginalized.

"There's a genuine fear of Richard Spencer coming (to UM)," Santiago-Romero said. "We know what's going to be said.

Meanwhile, another group, Students4Justice at the University of Michigan, has called on the university's administration to cancel classes on Thursday "to pressure the administration to refuse to allow Richard Spencer to speak on campus, as well as show leniency to marginalized students who have been affected by our oppressive campus environment throughout the rest of the semester." The group made its demand in a letter to officials published last week in the Michigan Daily, the university's campus newspaper.

Spencer’s appearances at other campuses have been accompanied by protests, including a speech in October at the University of Florida.

Last month, Spencer asked university officials to speak on its Ann Arbor campus. His request came after Michigan State University denied him permission to speak on its campus and after UM hosted controversial author Charles Murray.

After not getting a response from UM officials, attorneys for Spencer threatened to sue.

Last week Tuesday, university officials said they would enter into talks with the white nationalist about possibly speaking on campus.

Santiago-Romero said if the effort to stop Spencer from speaking on campus fails, then her group will work to hold alternates events. Details have not been finalized yet, she said.