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Posted: August 13, 2017

‘Alt-right’ activist Richard Spencer plans visit to University of Florida

File photo.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Danae Leake, co-editor Richard Spencer might speak at the University of Florida in September.

UF President Kent Fuchs released a statement saying that the National Policy Institute, which is led by Spencer, contacted the university to reserve space for a speaking event that would feature Spencer, who is a white nationalist and "alt-right" activist.

Fuchs said the organization is not affiliated with the university, and no student groups or other groups affiliated with the university are sponsoring the speech.

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The event is not finalized and it is still under discussion, Fuchs said.

University regulations allow non-university groups, organizations and persons to rent space on campus. The groups must cover rental expenses and security costs.

Fuchs said the university's administration, staff and campus police are forming a security plan if the event is finalized. The university is working with other organizations that held similar events on their campuses.

"For many in our community, including myself, this speaker’s presence would be deeply disturbing," Fuchs said in an official statement. "What we’ve watched happen in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the last 24 hours is deplorable; I again denounce all statements and symbols of hate. The University of Florida is a community of learners, educators and scholars. We encourage open and honest dialogue, and we strive to build an inclusive environment where hate is not welcome."

Fuchs said that while Spencer's views do not align with those of the university, the university has to follow and uphold the First Amendment.

Saturday marked a violent day for Charlottesville after one person died and 19 were injured following a white nationalist rally.

Spencer led a rally in May, protesting plans to remove a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"Though we have a responsibility as a public university, we also have a vital duty to our students, faculty and staff to uphold our educational mission," Fuchs said.

The event would be held Sept. 12 if it is finalized by the university. 

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