Over the weekend scenes from Charlottesville, Virginia took the nation by storm as protests and counter protests turned violent near the University of Virginia.
Coincidently this weekend UF President Kent Fuchs emailed students to make them aware that Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute and a white supremacist, could possibly speak at the University of Florida on September 2.
In the e-mail (and on Facebook) Fuchs said:
“Per university regulation 2.004, non-university groups, organizations and persons may rent space on campus, provided they cover rental expenses and security costs like all other third-party renters. UF administration, staff and campus police are developing a security plan for the potential event and are working with colleagues across the country who have had similar events on their campus.”
President Fuchs went on to say that the Spencer’s appearance would be disturbing to many in the community, including himself, but that the university would follow the First Amendment.
“While this speaker’s views do not align with our values as an institution, we must follow the law, upholding the First Amendment not to discriminate based on content and provide access to a public space,” Fuchs’ statement read.
On Monday Gators head football coach Jim McElwain was asked about the events over the weekend in Charlottesville and the potential that it could come to his University.
He was less than welcoming, making his feelings very clear.
“I think first and foremost, any extremist group, I don’t care – nationalist, whatever they’re called – is unacceptable. It’s just not what we believe in here. And yet I also understand freedom of speech. That’s what really our country was kind of founded on,” said McElwain. “We obviously do not in any way believe in any of their views. And I think our team understands that.”
Both McElwain and Fuchs said that groups such as this thrive on attention and both have called for students and media to match the group with a peaceful silence.
“I think when you go back to some of the great leaders of our country, peace is really the greatest thing you can do,” McElwain said Monday. “So to react to it or to overreact to it, no. What makes extremists nervous is when they can’t get to you, because you’re true to your beliefs. You know what? It’s a bad deal.”