TikTok star Josh Richards will make his UF debut, despite speculation of a death threat made against him by a student.
Accent Speakers Bureau rescheduled Richards’ appearance to kick off the Fall speaker series, which will take place Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in the University Auditorium, according to an announcement Thursday. The original event was scheduled for June 29, but was later canceled due to an “unforeseen family obligation,” Accent Chairman Tyler Kahan said.
The initial announcement of his event also sparked mixed reactions from UF students due to his controversial past.
Initially, Richards faced backlash in 2020 when he flashed his fans, many of whom critics say are young, on Instagram Live. Richards was also part of the Sway House, a TikTok house that has been criticized for drug arrests and “frat-like behavior.”
Leading up to the event, The Alligator reported on a UF student under investigation by the University Police Department for making an alleged death threat against a “UF guest speaker,” according to a sworn complaint.
The threat was an edited image shared to Instagram featuring an anime character standing behind a “guest speaker” with a gun, according to the complaint.
UPD spokesperson Latrell Simmons said the case is still open and wouldn’t respond to questions until more progress is made. When asked about the security detail for the Sept. 8 event, Simmons didn’t reply in time for publication.
It’s unclear as of Sunday evening whether Richards decided to return or was contractually obligated to do so.
Ronin Lupien, a 20-year-old biomedical engineering major, served as the assistant director of graphic design for Accent from May to the beginning of August. Although Lupien said he’s personally “ambivalent” toward Richards, he acknowledged that Richards may appeal to some students.
“It wasn’t in our place as Accent staffers to tell students how to feel,” Lupien said.
Staffers were told in a GroupMe a couple days before the show was supposed to happen that it was going to be postponed because of “family issues” on Richards’ end, Lupien said. Lupien found out from The Alligator about the death threat against Richards.
In an email, Kahan defended the choice to book Richards for the event.
“ACCENT decided on Josh as a speaker as he is a social media mogul, entrepreneur, writer, actor, and podcast host, as well as a fun, exciting, influential speaker who can focus on a wide array of topics and one who is a great fit for a first show of the year,” Kahan wrote.
Mariana Regis, a 21-year-old medical lab assistant at Shands Hospital, said she thought the event was a joke when Accent first posted about it. To have someone as controversial as Richards speak to the students of UF and inspire them is not a good look, Regis said.
“When it was canceled, I was hoping it would stay canceled,” Regis said.
Contact Anushka Dakshit at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @anushkadak.
Anushka Dakshit is a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies major and the general reporter on the University desk of The Alligator. She started out as an arts and culture reporter at The Avenue and hopes to pursue arts and culture reporting and print magazine journalism in her career. Along with The Alligator, she is one of the Print Editorial Directors of Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, she likes to listen to old Bollywood music, read and obsess over other writers’ processes whenever she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often).