U of M holds meeting to discuss request from white supremacist to speak on campus

Richard Spencer requests opportunity to speak publicly on campus

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan is discussing whether to allow white supremacist Richard Spencer to speak on campus.

White nationalist rallies have been known to get violent, so the university is making safety and security a top priority.

Students and faculty members voiced their concerns Tuesday at an open meeting. Their opposition centers around Spencer's request to speak on campus.

"If it's your decision to let this individual speak, we request that he be as far away from the students as possible," said student Yazmyn Cross.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said Spencer's right to free speech makes the situation complex.

"I made the difficult decision to begin discussions with Richard Spencer's group to determine whether he will be allowed to rent space to speak on the University of Michigan campus," Schlissel said.

The president and regent members denounced the white nationalist's hate speech, but added that legally, their hands are tied.

"We are legally prohibited from blocking such requests based solely on the content of that speech, however sickening it is," Schlissel said.

READSchlissel releases statement on white supremacist request to speak on campus

Outside, there was a rally, and inside, one by one, people let Schlissel know Spencer and his followers aren't looking to speak, but rather to incite violence. They used the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a prime example.

"To allow this man on our campus unchecked, you incur the same risk of violence, and if something terrible happens, you will shoulder the blame," student Ismael Halawh said.

"Allowing Spencer to speak here would make a mockery of our institution core beliefs and frankly, if our friends and rivals at East Lansing and Columbus can say no to the Nazis, then surely the leader here can find a way to do so as well," faculty member Michael Wiess said.