Michigan State Univ. allows white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak

Posted at 1:28 PM, Jan 18, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University has agreed to allow white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus during spring break.

The deal signed Thursday says Spencer can appear on March 5. But he'll be at the livestock pavilion auditorium, away from the heart of campus.

Spencer ally Cameron Padgett must pay $1,650 and come up with at least $2 million in liability insurance. MSU will arrange for police.

The deal settles a lawsuit that was filed after MSU last summer cited public safety and refused to rent space. Padgett said the school was violating free speech rights.

Spencer popularized the term "alt-right" to refer to a fringe movement that's a mix of white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic and anti-immigration beliefs.

Under the deal, MSU is paying $27,400 for Padgett's legal fees.

A statement from MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon is below:

“Last fall, a white nationalist group sought to hold an event at MSU shortly after tragic violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. We declined to allow the event at that time, not because of their hateful views, but because public safety is our first obligation.
Michigan State is wholly dedicated to freedom of speech, not just as a public institution, but as an institution of higher education. Here, ideas—not people—are meant to clash and to be evaluated based on their merits. As I noted in a long-standing statement on freedom of speech, “Without this freedom, effective sifting and testing of ideas cease, and research, teaching, and learning are stifled.”
So this week, MSU agreed to allow the group to hold an event, during spring break, at the MSU Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education on March 5, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. This agreement was based on the university’s requirement that the event occur on a date and at a venue that minimizes the risk of violence or disruption to campus. The security of our campus community remains our top priority and all appropriate security measures will be taken in connection with the event.
Michigan State rejects this group’s divisive and racist messages and remains committed to maintaining a diverse campus and supporting an inclusive, just and democratic society.”