There appears to be a collective angst looming over campus as preparation continues for Richard Spencer’s arrival on campus Thursday. I’ve already witnessed students discussing the notion of skipping class, fearing some faceless, nameless harm will do them injury. I empathize with this concern, especially for first-year students new to campus life.
However, as professionals in training, stall your panic and consider the alternative that violence is against Spencer’s interests on campus.
Conceived as a left-(alt)-right divide, the liberal element of campus stands to benefit more from potential violence breaking out at the event. It confirms the existing narrative of Spencer and sets a precedent to bar controversial groups from speaking on campus in the future.
This does a disservice to conservative Gators that want their views represented by guest speakers.
Despite the concerns of the administration, Spencer has greater incentive to promote peaceful discourse and avoid conflict. However, this does not negate the unenviable position of UF President Kent Fuchs at present — the need to balance the pressures of potential liability, the scrutiny of national coverage and the concerns of Gators arguing over the National Policy Institute’s right to set foot on campus — an impossible position.
I do not think the administration wants conflict any more than the next individual, but the benefits are apparent. I encourage all within the Gainesville community to remain safe and level-headed throughout the coming week and extend your gratitude to all those in law enforcement seeking to honor our First Amendment.
Gregory Muller is a UF student.