(SL) – USA Today reports, As the clock ticked closer to white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida, the campus was on edge amid concerns over potential violence between supporters and counter-protesters.
Students and faculty expressed fear and worry about Spencer’s Thursday appearance and the increased security presence.
“The students are scared, especially our students who are from minority communities,” said Vincent Adejumo, a lecturer in African-American studies. “Many of them have already left town. Parents have great concern.
“It’s basically a powder keg right now.”
Sophomore Rachel Guttman said her Jewish sorority advised its members against wearing their letters on Thursday. “Honestly, everyone’s kind of scared right now and we don’t know what to expect,” she said.
But there were signs of a unifying response and a desire to rebut hate speech and racism.
Painted sheets hang from the facades of fraternities and sororities at the University of Florida repeating “Love not hate #TogetherUF.”
Reportedly, more than 500 police officers will be present when Richard Spencer speaks.
University President W. Kent Fuchs said officials have been preparing for the controversial alt-right leader’s visit for the past few weeks and have banned an extensive list of items including torches, masks, umbrellas and shields.
Some students are surprised that they cannot ban hate speech from a public university.
UF, the state’s second-largest university with more than 52,000 students, initially denied Spencer’s request to speak here in September, but in a letter to the UF community, president Kent Fuchs said the First Amendment required the university to allow the event.
The National Policy Institute, which Spencer runs, paid $10,564 to rent the 1,700-seat Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. No UF organization invited Spencer, the university said.
The university president estimates that it is going to cost $600,000 for the extra security and other expenses.