The University of Florida has denied the National Policy Institute’s request to rent event space for Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who leads the organization, to speak on campus, the university’s president said in a statement on Wednesday.
The university denied the request after the violent weekend on the University of Virginia’s campus highlighted potential safety risks for Florida’s campus, the statement said. On social media, the city of Gainseville, Fla., was dubbed “the next battlefield” for violent protests from hate groups.
“I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for,” said W. Kent Fuchs, Florida’s president, in the statement.
The university is still committed to the principles of free speech, Mr. Fuchs said, but the First Amendment does not “require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.”
“The likelihood of violence and potential injury — not the words or ideas — has caused us to take this action,” Mr. Fuchs said.
Florida is the second public institution to deny Mr. Spencer an opportunity to speak on campus this week. Texas A&M University canceled a planned “White Lives Matter” event that an outsider had organized on its campus, citing similar safety concerns.