WHAT YOU SAID: Did University of Cincinnati make the right decision on Richard Spencer?

Here's what you told us
Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 20, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Although no date has been set, and no location specified, the attorney for white nationalist Richard Spencer nevertheless demanded an answer from University of Cincinnati officials on a request for Spencer to speak on campus.

UC's president, citing the First Amendment, agreed to allow Spencer, a leading figure of the alternative right, white nationalist movement.

The decision was controversial.

Spencer headlined the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned violent and resulted in a protestor being killed. Florida's governor actually declared a state of emergency around Spencer's appearance Thursday at the University of Florida. 

So we asked what you thought with our What You Said question this week: Did UC make the right decision in allowing Richard Spencer to speak on campus?

Many of you weighed the First Amendment right of free speech with the question of public safety.

Mary Rolfes of Clifton emailed:

No UC did not make the right decision on allowing Mr. Spencer to come. The # 1 biggest reason is safety. In light of the protesting of the Ray Tensing trial, I believe it keeps bringing up racial issues from the past. I have a son who attends UC and I fear for his safety. I also have a daughter who is an R.N. on the campus and I myself also work on the campus. I believe students who want to be there should go and the rest of the campus on a lock down and no classes scheduled for that day. 

Jared Rosely also cited safety in his email:

Someone please tell me why the University of Cincinnati has to let racist white supremacist Richard Spencer speak on its campus? He is not a citizen of Ohio and does not pay for tuition to go to the school ... He is endangering the student population and UC should recognize that if one of its students is injured in this rally they may ironically have to deal with what they were trying to avoid by allowing him to speak. 

And Samantha Krukowski emailed a shout-out to Ohio State University, which said no to Spencer:

Wrong decision, UC. We are facing a moment in history where 'free speech' and 'hate speech' are aligned. Failure to refuse Spencer equals support of hatred and racism. Let's not pretend we don't know where this is headed. Way to go OSU.

We included an online poll in our previous story, and at deadline, 328 people had voted. We were surprised that 57 percent of those who voted disagreed with UC's decision. Thirty-two percent said UC made the right call and 11 percent said they didn't know. 

But many of you who wrote agreed with UC's decision, citing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech and the right to peacefully assemble.

Tim McKenzie posted that free speech is what a university is supposed to be all about:

Ethan Eric Fletcher said the First Amendment was designed to protect such controversial speech:

But "Mercy Be" tweeted that the First Amendment does have limits:

UC undergrad Mike Arnold stood up for his university:

I am a 5th year student at the University of Cincinnati and I believe the administration made the right but difficult call regarding Richard Spencer ...  Why should UC spend student's and taxpayer's money to go to federal court (again), lose, and be forced to host him anyways?  I applaud the university and administrators for committing to protect all forms of speech even how vile it may be.

Others agreed with the decision, but had some ideas about the community should respond. Savannah Elyse suggested taking notes:


That prompted this reply from Melinda Blount:

A brewery in Florida tried to lure students away from Spencer's appearance there with free beer:

2 Richard Spencer tickets get you free beer here

Several of you had suggestions for how the news media should respond in the event Spencer does come to town:

Jen Normi and Angela Kovacich had some thoughts about where Spencer could speak. Jen emailed:

I don't agree with Spencer at all and I believe  speaking at UC is not the smartest place for him to speak. It's only going to cause trouble. However, the moment a public place starts picking and choosing who speaks and what the people can hear, it starts choosing which rights are to be upheld, along with taking away freedoms. Just give the man a small space on the very edge of campus where there is little foot traffic and with lots of limitations.

Next week, we'll ask your opinion on another topic. In the meantime, you can go to our Facebook page or Twitter and share your thoughts there. You can also share your thoughts here. You can share your opinions in the form of text, photos, video, drawings or audio recordings.

And take a look at our Feedback Friday page for another way to express your what's on your mind.