UF Statement Regarding Latest Development on National Policy Institute Request

Janine Sikes, Assistant VP of Public Affairs
September 7, 2017
While the University of Florida administration continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Irma, we want to share the latest developments in the National Policy Institute’s effort to schedule a speaking event for white supremacist Richard Spencer.

UF remained firm in its decision to deny space for an event on Sept. 12. However, this group has made a request for a new date. As a public institution, UF is required by law to make a good faith effort to provide options for a reasonable date, time and campus venue, no matter how much we detest the points of views expressed.  As with any event, we also have a responsibility to assess safety and security risks, and will continue to do so until the event. 

We have set Thursday, Oct. 19 as the possible event date. We will now begin with the university’s regular protocols for evaluating the risks and associated costs. The university has been meeting daily for the past month with state, local and federal law enforcement agencies on a comprehensive campus and community security plan. The Oct. 19 date is not official until a formal facilities contract is signed and all appropriate rental and security costs have been paid.

UF deplores Spencer’s and the National Policy Institute’s rhetoric and views, which run counter to those of this institution. We also acknowledge that many of our students, faculty and staff are disproportionately impacted by their racism. 

While this event is not in any way affiliated with the university, UF supports the constitutional right to free speech, and our role as a public university includes legal obligations to allow a wide range of viewpoints to be expressed by external groups – even when they are contrary to the core values of our university.

Safety remains our top priority, whether it is for this potential event or the threat of a hurricane, and we will take appropriate preparatory actions. For now, the urgency of Hurricane Irma requires all of us to stay focused on readying for the potential impact of this storm. We urge each of you to monitor weather reports and announcements from local governments. UF updates will be posted on www.ufl.edu and on UF’s information line at 866-UF-FACTS (1-866-833-2287).