Alt-right leader Richard Spencer chose the University of Michigan as his next speech venue and there’s very little that can be done to stop him.
“I personally detest and reject the hateful white supremacy and white nationalism expressed by Mr. Spencer as well as his racist, anti-Semitic and otherwise bigoted views,” said university president Mark Schlissel in a heated public meeting of the board of regents on Tuesday. Yet he admitted his hands are tied since the university is prohibited by law from barring Spencer “based solely on the content of that speech, however sickening it is.”
Schlissel is Jewish, and the University of Michigan has the sixth-highest Jewish population of any university in the country, according to Jewish campus group Hillel International.
Spencer and his supporters reached out with a request to rent space on campus for their event and were not invited by the university.
The meeting, according to a Detroit Free Press report was packed with students protesting the decision to allow Spencer to speak. Some chanted: “Say it loud! Say it clear! Nazis are not welcome here!” as the regents gathered. Only one regent, Denise Ilitch, voted against the decision to permit the event, noting that other academic institutions, including Michigan State University, Ohio State University and Penn State had denied Spencer’s request to speak.
A final decision will be made after university administrators determine whether Spencer’s speech could cause a potential safety issue for participants and students.
University Of Michigan Must Let Richard Spencer Speak
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.