Federal and local officials are bracing for potential protests during Spencer's scheduled speech, which have already begun.
But in a climate in which the conversation is focused on affordability, ROI and the public burden of higher education, framing opposition to allowing these individuals on campus is an incredibly savvy move which will catch the attention of the same legislators who seek to push through bills to protect free speech above all.
Spencer, whose last major public appearance with other white nationalists ended with a riot in Charlottesville, Va., this year, was expected to speak during the afternoon at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on an isolated corner of the campus. He told Salon.com in 2013 that white people "need to start thinking about a new ethno-state that we would want to be a part of".
According to an AP report, Fuchs has estimated an additional $600,000 cost - which will be shouldered by taxpayers who support the public institution - to host Spencer on campus later today, and said "taxpayers are subsidizing hate speech". Darnell said now they are expecting both protesters and counterprotesters to show up in connection to Spencer's appearance.
Hundreds of police officers showed up, creating an overwhelming security presence that included helicopters and officers stationed on rooftops and throughout the theater. They clashed violently with counterprotesters, including members of the so-called antifa movement (short for anti-fascists). It said it will spend more than 500 thousand dollars on security. President W. Kent Fuchs urged students not to come near the event, saying Spencer and his followers wanted to provoke a reaction. One person died after a vehicle drove into a crowd of protesters and roughly 19 others were injured. The school offered an online discussion at the time of the speech as an alternative. Scott issued a state of emergency to make it easier for authorities from outside Gainesville to help. He also parried reporters' questions with condescending answers, calling them "dumb", "not smart enough", and compared them to preschoolers.
"We are hoping that this is going to be a non-event".