UF Denies Campus Event Request From White Nationalist Group

The University of Florida is denying a request by a group headed by white supremacist Richard Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event.

UF President W. Kent Fuchs released a statement Wednesday morning, saying the decision to decline was made after assessing risks to the campus, community and law enforcement following last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Spencer allegedly contacted the university in hopes of renting space Gainesville campus next month.

In denying the request, Fuchs said he finds Spencer's racist rhetoric "repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for."

Fuchs said UF is dedicated to free speech and public discourse, but the First Amendment doesn't require risk of imminent violence to students.

"The likelihood of violence and potential injury," Fuchs noted, "has caused us to take this action."

Cameron Padgett, a Spencer supporter who was organizing the UF event, was told of the university's decision by an Associated Press reporter on Wednesday.

According to the AP, Padgett said he was going to call his lawyer immediately and start the process of filing a court challenge. 

Padgett is being paid nearly $30,000 from Auburn University after he successfully challenged that school's attempts to block the group from speaking there. He says they'd signed an agreement with Florida and believes the group will prevail just as they did with the Auburn challenge in April.

A judge allowed the Spencer event at Auburn to proceed. Several hundred people attended the event and three people were arrested outside the building during clashes between Spencer's supporters and his opponents.

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