Universities: No decision on white nationalist’s speech

By Dan Sewell - Associated Press

CINCINNATI (AP) — The University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University said Thursday they weren’t ready to announce decisions on a demand they allow white nationalist leader Richard Spencer to speak on campus.

Attorney Kyle Bristow earlier wrote emails to UC and Ohio State saying they had until Friday to agree to make campus space available for Spencer to speak or face a lawsuit.

UC spokesman Greg Vehr said university officials are considering “safety and logistical issues” associated with an appearance by Spencer, who attended a Virginia white nationalist rally at which a woman was killed in August. Vehr spoke after UC’s board of trustees met for about 90 minutes in closed session Thursday.

Ohio State spokesman Ben Johnson said the Columbus-based university also is reviewing the request from a Georgia college student, Cameron Padgett.

Padgett contacted both universities last month about renting space. He asked the University of Cincinnati in late September to provide an auditorium to accommodate 800 people for Spencer to speak later this month.

Bristow said Thursday he will be ready to file a lawsuit this Sunday.

“I imagine similar reviews are not required of politically left-wing events on campus, and your ‘review’ is therefore unconstitutionally discriminatory in and of itself,” he wrote earlier to the universities.

The Ohio universities are the latest targeted for appearances by Spencer since he participated in the August white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to deadly violence.

Spencer is scheduled to speak Oct. 19 at the University of Florida. That university’s president is urging students to stay away from Spencer’s appearance and to speak out against “hate and racism.”

UF says it expects to spend $500,000 on security for the event. It said as a public institution it is legally obligated to allow the expression of many viewpoints by external groups, such as Spencer’s National Policy Institute.

Padgett, who attends Georgia State University, submitted a second request to Ohio State after the first was denied.

OSU said it was considering whether Spencer can be “accommodated without substantial risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests.”

By Dan Sewell

Associated Press