University to suggest dates for Spencer event by end of January
The University of Michigan will offer white supremacist Richard Spencer and his team potential dates for an event hosted by Spencer by the end of January, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald confirmed Friday.
"What we've indicated is that we would have some dates to suggest by the end of January," Fitzgerald said. "We would suggest the dates by the end of January. The dates will be in the future."
The University has previously said maintaining campus safety was its top priority in negotiations with Spencer. Fitzgerald said once a date has been determined, the parties will negotiate additional details such as venue and location of the event.
"Safety remains our highest priority," Fitzgerald wrote in an email to The Daily.
Fitzgerald said there was no confirmation of what those dates might be yet, but Cameron Padgett, the Georgia State University student assisting Spencer in booking events at college campuses across the country, previously requested to speak during the University's spring break between Feb. 24 and March 4.
Students have expressed frustration and concern over the University's decision to consider allowing Spencer to speak on campus, staging a series of protests in opposition of the decision. Hoai An Pham, press coordinator for the Stop Spencer at the University of Michigan coalition, said Spencer could not be ignored, in response to expressed worries from University President Mark Schlissel that the University community was giving Spencer too much attention.
“I think what a lot of people have been saying is, ‘Why don't you just ignore him? Why don't you just ignore this and let him do his thing?’ Are we supposed to just ignore actual Nazis when anything has happened? Do we just say, ‘Oh, it'll solve itself?’” Pham said in a November interview.
Kyle Bristow, an attorney representing Padgett, had previously threatened to file a lawsuit against the University on Padgett's behalf if they were not given a date proposal by Jan. 15. This is the third time Spencer's team has extended their deadline since first threatening to sue by Nov. 24. Padgett will not sue at least until the end of January, Bristow said –– against Bristow's wishes.
"My client, Cameron Padgett—who is the event organizer—, directed me to wait until the end of January before filing suit in federal court to see whether the University of Michigan will provide a reasonable time, manner, and place for the proposed event to occur," Bristow wrote in an email to The Daily. "I wanted to sue the University of Michigan on January 16 if my January 15 demand is not met, but I take my marching orders from my client. I already have the complaint drafted and ready for electronic filing with the court. It could be electronically filed in under five minutes’ time from any place on the planet that has an internet connection."
Fitzgerald said the University did not take the threats into account before informing Spencer's team they would respond by the end of January.
"We simply were trying to move forward in a responsible manner, saying, 'This is when we expect to be able to offer you some dates,'" Fitzgerald said.
Padgett is currently in lawsuits against five other universities, including Michigan State University and Ohio State University.