Citing safety concerns, UNC chancellor Carol Folt has denied a request to rent space for prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus.
With the announcement, UNC joins a growing list of universities turning away the man who coined the term “alt-right.”
The request comes as UNC students stage a sit-in calling for the removal of Silent Sam, a Confederate monument on campus and demonstrations nationwide against white supremacy, including one that drew hundreds of people to downtown Durham two weeks ago.
According to a statement from Folt, the request came from the National Policy Institute, where Spencer is president. The organization is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world,” per news reports quoting its website, which is down right now.
“I made this decision after consultation with UNC Police and local and state law enforcement agencies who have thoroughly assessed the risks such an event could bring to Carolina. Our basis for this decision is the safety and security of the campus community—we are not willing to risk anyone’s safety in light of these known risks,” Folt said in a statement. “I am deeply saddened and disturbed that the violent and virulent rhetoric being espoused by extremist groups has jeopardized the ability of campuses to promote robust dialogue and debate about important issues while ensuring public safety.”
Spencer, who attended Duke University and was a speaker at Unite the Right, the white supremacist gathering held in Charlottesville earlier this month, has also recently been denied by several other universities, including Michigan State and the University of Florida.
As a means to “promote and encourage our campus community to engage in constructive conversation,” Folt invited faculty, staff, and students to a September 6 program called “The First Amendment and Free Speech at UNC.”