Administrators Should Be Given Advice on Denouncing Hate Speech

To the Editor:

Your article, “Another Public University Says No to a White-Nationalist Event” (The Chronicle, August 17), names the four public institutions that have recently declined to host an event at which Richard Spencer, white supremacist leader of the National Policy Institute, would presumably speak. It also provides the universities’ rationale for doing so, which is to protect the safety and security of its students in the wake of Charlottesville violence. While your article states the responses of Michigan State University, the University of Florida, Texas A&M University, and Louisiana State University, what it fails to do is address how their responses are not enough. President F. King Alexander of Louisiana State University is the only president represented among these institutions whose public statement calls attention to the most glaring concern of all, hate is not welcome here.

The Chronicle has a key role in advising university administrators on how to respond to these types of threats and by omitting such advice you afford protection to continued hate speech from groups like the National Policy Institute. By not naming these groups “white supremacists” and instead using the more euphemistic “white nationalists,” you are sheltering them from the stigma and the history of hate and violence they represent. We as university administrators must not only deny white supremacists the spaces to speak, but we must also denounce the hate that these groups represent. We must acknowledge that these opinions do not reflect the opinions of our universities. We must validate the presence of students of color on our campuses. And we must commit our institutions to creating communities of respect.

Becca Calvillo
Graduate Student
University of Southern California
Los Angeles

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