Texas A&M University is changing its policy on who is allowed to be a guest speaker on campus after a controversial event last year featuring “alt-right” leader and Dallas native Richard Spencer.
Spencer, whose “alt-right” movement is known for its racist views and its championing of a whites-only nation, came to campus in December as the guest of a former student. He told a crowd during a speech at the student center that “America, at the end of the day, belongs to white men.”
Texas A&M’s new rule requires that external speakers be sponsored by a recognized student group or administrative unit, CNN reports. The sponsors have to attend the event and assume responsibility for any damage or unpaid fees.
Amy Smith, a spokeswoman for the university, told CNN that Texas A&M is worried about hate groups descending on the university and giving people the impression that the university accepts their views.
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“Even with on-campus speaker requirements, however, there are yet still common areas of campuses outside of building facilities that could be considered open public space, as throughout our country, where some could gather to espouse their views,” Smith told CNN.
Smith wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Texas A&M officials said last year that they were powerless to stop Spencer from speaking on campus because doing so would violate his free-speech rights at a public university. Instead, they hosted a counterprotest.
Spencer’s invitation to speak came from Preston Wiginton, a Texas A&M dropout who has hosted incendiary speakers on campus for years against administrators’ wishes, the Texas Tribune reported. Among his guests: the editor of a white supremacist magazine, the leader of a far-right British political party and the producer of a documentary that questions whether racism is real.
Before his appearance at Texas A&M, Spencer made headlines and dropped jaws when he elicited a wave of Nazi salutes at a Washington, D.C., conference in which he called on the audience to “hail Trump!”