Ohio State Denies Richard Spencer's Request To Speak On Campus

Sep 7, 2017

The Ohio State University denied white supremacist Richard Spencer space to speak on campus.

According to Public Relations Director Ben Johnson, the university rejected the National Policy Institute’s request to rent space on campus in October. Spencer is president of the institute, a white supremacist think-tank, and co-editor of AltRight.com.

The institute's request, as provided by the university, expected a few hundred attendees for the public event.

"Richard Spencer will give a speech, and answer questions from the audience," the request said. "He is open to debating a professor, if someone would like to accept the challenge. Due to the nature of the event, we will need a lot of security. Similar events have drawn dozens of anarchist 'antifa' protesters."

Organizers of the event stated that they expected hecklers, and said security would have to potentially evict protesters. Spencer would bring his own personal security detail of between 3-6 people.

Johnson said it was not possible to accommodate the request safely.

"After thoroughly assessing space options and resources and after consulting with law enforcement officials, the university determined that it is not possible to accommodate this request without substantial risk to public safety," Ohio State officials wrote in a message to the institute on Friday. "Because of the substantial risk and our commitment to the safety of our campus community, the university is denying this request to rent space.”

Spencer announced a national university speaking tour a day after the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally, where one counter-protester was killed. Ohio State is at least the sixth reported university to decline to allow an event featuring Spencer.

Michigan State University, another school that denied Spencer's request, is being sued by a Georgia State University student in charge of organizing Spencer’s speaking tour, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Two conservative Ohio lawmakers recently introduced a "Campus Free Speech Act" in the legislature that prohibits universities from dis-inviting speakers based on the "potential reaction, opposition, offense or irritation taken to that speaker's expression." Ohio State president Michael V. Drake said bills like that aren't necessary.

WOSU News reached out to the National Policy Institute for comment.