University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs sent out a letter to the campus community today announcing that the university denied the National Policy Institute’s request to hold an event on campus. President Fuchs cited “serious concerns for safety” following the violence in Charlottesville, Va. as the reason for the denial.

University of Florida
UF President Kent Fuchs speaks with local media earlier this year (Image by John Freeman, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications)

The National Policy Institute is a white supremacist organization that describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” It is led by Richard Spencer.

University of Florida

In his letter, President Fuchs stated, “I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for.”

However, he also reaffirmed the university’s commitment to free speech, stating that the threat of violence, rather than the NPI’s ideas, was the reason for denying the request.

On Saturday, August 12, a participant in the Charlottesville white supremacist rally intentionally ran his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, injuring several and killing Heather Heyer. Social media rhetoric encouraging more violence at future rallies—such as “The Next Battlefield is in Florida”—informed the University of Florida’s decision.