Central Student Government calls upon student body to sign anti-Spencer petition
Tuesday evening, Central Student Government President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, and CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad, a Public Policy senior, sent a school-wide email condemning neo-Nazi and white supermacist Richard Spencer’s potential visit to the University of Michigan campus.
Fearing an unsafe atmosphere on campus, Sarkar and Jawad asked students to sign a petition, which Sarkar plans to present to the Board of Regents Thursday.
The statement emphasizes the possibility of violence that would accompany Spencer’s visit.
“This is our home and we have the right to our safety and security, above all else. We did not choose to attend the University of Michigan only to fear violence and the unsafe atmosphere that come with Richard Spencer and the people that follow him,” it reads. “We did not come to the University of Michigan to put our lives on the line. We did not come to the University of Michigan to live in fear of being harmed.”
The statement also references the incidents regarding Spencer at the University of Florida, in which three white supremacists shot at counter protesters. It also mentioned Heather Heyer, a protester killed when struck by a car driven by a neo-Nazi at a Charlottesville, N.C. for another Spencer-led event.
“As the people who are at the highest risk of harm should Richard Spencer and his followers come to campus, we oppose Richard Spencer being on campus because he and his followers have a demonstrated track record of inciting fatal violence, to which we refuse to be subjected,” the statement reads. “We are looking to you to protect your constituents, your community, and your paying stakeholders against this violence.”
Safety has been one of the biggest concerns for students and professors on campus regarding Spencer. At last week’s CSG meeting, social justice group By Any Means Necessary asked the student assembly to condemn Spencer’s visit. Sarkar, however, said the possible resolution should focus on physical danger rather than conflict of thought.
“It’s pretty likely that University will go to court regardless,” she said. “If we pass a resolution that says that we reject him speaking here because of the content of his speech, they will use that to win the lawsuit. The resolution should focus on the fact that Spencer and his followers bring about violence.”
During the #StopSpencer teach-ins, history professor Anne Berg referenced the outbreaks of violence that have followed Spencer on his college tour.
“There is very recent historical precedent that when he shows up and speaks, things go wrong,” Berg said. “And the fact that our national administration has sort of responded in a sort of ‘two sides’ kind of way, and Trump in particular saying ‘there are always two sides to a story,’ no, as historians there are many more sides to any story than just two sides, but what is crucial here is that one side is looking for a fight.”