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Ohio State Still Won't Say If Richard Spencer Can Speak On Campus

Richard Spencer
David J Phillip
Associated Press
Richard Spencer speaks at Texas A&M University in December 2016.

Ohio State University officials on Monday declined comment on threatened legal action from the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group denied a space to speak on campus.

University public relations director Ben Johnson said Monday that there had been no decision to deny Richard Spencer's request, citing a September 19 statement that they would review the proposal.

On September 1, however Ohio State sent a letter to Gregory Ritter, an associate of Spencer's at AltRight.com, rejecting the group's request to reserve campus space. The proposal expected a few hundred attendees, and predicted a large number of protesters.

"The university determined that it is not possible to accommodate this request without substantial risk to public safety," Ohio State said in its denial.

Then, on September 19, the university issued a statement saying it would continue to review a speaking request from Spencer’s associate Cameron Padgett.

"We are working with Mr. Padgett to confirm the details of his space rental for further consideration," the university said. "Once those details have been provided, the university will review his request pursuant to our standard process, which includes full consideration as to whether the space rental request can be accommodated without substantial risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests."

An attorney for Spencer's associates said he'll sue The Ohio State University, along with the University of Cincinnati, if they don't agree by Friday to make space available. Ohio State officials declined to comment about the threat.

Earlier this year, Auburn University in Alabama cited safety concerns in canceling a planned speech by Spencer. A federal judge later forced Auburn to host him as previously scheduled. The event attracted hundreds of protesters and included at least three arrests.

According to university guidelines, "spaces that may be reserved for holding events (defined as activities where the user expects sole usage of the space or likely to be a gathering more than 100 people or activities that require physical set-up of equipment, signs, or other structures) by registered student organizations, students, faculty, staff, and non-affiliates (defined as any person who is not any of the following: a student, officer, employee, Trustee, or emeritus of the University) for the support of the University’s mission, administrative functions, or campus activities."

Spencer has become one of the faces of the movement known as the "alt-right," and organized the "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist groups in Charlottesville, Va., which turned violent and ended in the death of one woman.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.