White nationalist won't speak at UM this semester

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Richard Spencer will not speak at the University of Michigan in the current semester.

The University of Michigan announced Friday white nationalist Richard Spencer will not be speaking at the Ann Arbor campus this semester. 

University officials said they are still considering his request to rent a space on campus but no potential dates are being considered before the end of the academic year. 

The university began talking with Spencer in November. On Dec. 7, Spencer's attorney threatened to sue the university unless the school scheduled a date for an appearance by Jan. 15.

President Mark Schlissel assured the campus venue will be rented to Spencer only if the university's Division of Public Safety and Security could assure the event can be hosted safely, according to the university statement

Spencer's representatives suggested possibly looking at dates later in the year, which the university will offer after the winter semester concludes on April 28. 

UM officials faced students opposed to Spencer’s appearance at the regents’ meeting on Dec. 7 and during a protest earlier that day at the school’s Dearborn campus.

Spencer is still set to speak at Michigan State University on March 5. In an agreement that resolved a lawsuit filed against the university, MSU has agreed to rent space on its East Lansing campus for him to speak.

Spencer will speak from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in a ticketed event at the Auditorium in the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education at MSU, according to the settlement filed earlier this month in federal court in Grand Rapids.

Anushka Sarkar, UM's student body president, said 5,000 students and 6,200 alumni have signed a petition against having Spencer speak on campus. She cited incidents at other schools where Spencer has appeared, including the University of Florida.

“Safety and security of students should be the university’s primary concern,” Sarkar told the regents. “We will not be safe if he and his followers come to this campus ... Richard Spencer should not be accommodated.”

Naomi Wilson, president of Rackham Student Government at UM, addressed regents in December, saying Spencer speaking on campus would be “careless,” “start a riot” and it would bring more speakers that share his thoughts to campus.

Regent Mark Bernstein responded saying the board believes it has to let Spencer speak.

“If you give the government, which is what this institution is, the right to say no, the right to stop speech they don’t agree with, they will,” he said.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_