Michigan State Will Host Richard Spencer After Lawsuit. Will Others Follow?

Jan 18, 2018

As representatives for Richard Spencer move forward with a lawsuit against The Ohio State University, other colleges are considering similar requests for him to speak on their campuses.

On Thursday, Michigan State University settled a lawsuit from Spencer’s associates and signed a deal that would allow the white nationalist to speak on campus on March 5, during spring break. But he’ll be away from the center of campus, at the livestock pavilion auditorium.

Cameron Padgett, a Georgia college student who is organizing Spencer’s college tour, must pay $1,650 and provide at least $2 million in liability insurance. Michigan State will arrange for police, and had to pay for Padgett’s attorney fees.

Earlier this month, Padgett and lawyer Kyle Bristow filed a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati for what they say are excessive security fees for Spencer’s appearance there, which was planned for March 14. University officials told Padgett the total cost would be $11,333, most of which comes from “security costs and fees.”

"Spencer was not invited or sponsored by any member of the university community, and like other non-sponsored speakers, he must pay a fee to rent university space,” said university spokesperson Greg Vehr. “This includes a security fee.”

The lawsuit calls the university’s criteria “facially unconstitutional,” saying it’s a free speech violation. A previous speech by Spencer at the University of Florida cost the school about $600,000 in security costs.

Padgett also requested space for a speech at Kent State on the May 4, the anniversary of the Ohio National Guard shootings. That’s the date, nearly 48 years ago, when national guardsmen fired into a crowd protesting the Vietnam War and killed four students.

Kent State is reviewing the request.

Meanwhile, a pretrial conference for Padgett’s lawsuit against Ohio State was schedule for Thursday at the district courthouse in Columbus. Ohio State denied Padgett’s proposal to rent space on campus, citing “substantial risk to public safety.” In response, Padgett and Bristow sued, seeking $75,000 and an injunction to let Spencer speak.

Bristow did not return a request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.