Regents to convene for sudden meeting on Richard Spencer request
UPDATE: In a campus-wide email, Schlissel has confirmed the University is in talks to find a space for Spencer to speak on campus. If there is no agreement that guarantees student safety, he wrote, Spencer will not speak.
"We now face a very difficult test of our ability to uphold these values. This is a test we did not welcome, but it’s one that we must face together," he wrote. "Let me be clear. U-M has not invited this individual to our campus, nor is anyone in our community sponsoring him. His representatives made a request to rent space on our campus for him to speak. We are legally prohibited from blocking such requests based solely on the content of that speech, however sickening it is."
Schlissel emphasized his distaste of Spencer and his rhetoric and encouraged students to ignore his upcoming visit.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents will convene for a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss allowing white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak on campus. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the Union Anderson room.
The announcement was sent via email from University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald, who noted there would be “an announcement regarding the request to rent space from Richard Spencer.” Central Student Government President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, also tweeted the announcement with a link for community members to sign up beforehand to speak during public comment.
Last week, lawyers threatened to sue the University if a decision were not released by this Friday. Kyle Bristow, an attorney representing Cameron Padgett, the Georgia State University student making requests for Spencer, laid down the ultimatum.
“Violations of our people’s sacred right to free speech will not whatsoever be tolerated by me. I will use any and all resources as my disposal to see this matter through to a just and equitable conclusion.”
The prospect of Spencer coming to speak on campus first arose at the end of October, sparking student protest and statements from several student organizations. Many students changed their profile pictures to “Hail, not Heil” against Spencer’s neo-Nazi rhetoric.
Do you think Richard Spencer should be allowed to speak at the university? — Michigan Students (@UMichStudents) November 2, 2017
Do you think Richard Spencer should be allowed to speak at the university?
— Michigan Students (@UMichStudents) November 2, 2017
“Allowing such a person to speak on this campus is a threat to the physical and emotional safety of many students on campus,” read a letter sent from the Black Student Union to University President Mark Schlissel Oct. 31. “Too many times already have students of color been placed under emotional distress due to racist campus climate.”
LSA junior Timberlee Whiteus, vice president of the University’s chapter of the NAACP, said earlier this month the argument that the University can’t deny requests based on content contradicts with the University’s promise to maintain a community safe for those on campus.
“I find it absurd that the University has released a statement saying they don’t deny requests based on content seeing that the content contradicts the beliefs of the University and those in administrative power,” Whiteus said.
University regents have also vocalized their concerns surrounding the request.
In an email obtained by The Daily, Regent Ron Weiser (R) expressed concerns surrounding allowing Spencer to come to campus.
“Spencer is a disgusting and dangerous man. This has been expressed by many members of the University community,” Weiser wrote. “I hope we are successful in keeping him off Campus.”
In a previous email to The Daily, Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R) — who is also the senior vice president for government affairs for Delta Air Lines — said she “would be happy to defend a lawsuit” against allowing Spencer to come.