Q&A for Richard Spencer 10/19 Event

Questions and Answers Regarding Richard Spencer Speaking Event Oct. 19.


Is white nationalist Richard Spencer speaking at the University of Florida?

Yes. The National Policy Institute requested space for a speaking event with its president Richard Spencer. The event is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Didn’t the university originally deny Richard Spencer’s request?

Yes. The first request was to rent a facility on Sept. 12. UF denied the request immediately after the violence in Charlottesville and after imminent threats targeting Gainesville and UF.

Why did UF change its position on Richard Spencer speaking?

UF’s position regarding Richard Spencer has remained the same. As a state entity, UF must allow the free expression of speech. We cannot prohibit groups or individuals from speaking in our public forums except for limited exceptions, which include safety and security.

Our decision to disallow the September event was based on specific threats and a date that fell soon after the Charlottesville event. Allowing Spencer to speak in October provided additional time to make significant security arrangements.

Which campus group invited Richard Spencer?

No one at UF invited Richard Spencer. No one at UF is sponsoring this event and UF is not hosting Mr. Spencer.

Is UF charging the National Policy Institute and Richard Spencer for this event?

Yes. The National Policy Institute is paying the allowable costs of $10,564 to rent the facility and for security within the venue.

Is the university paying for additional security measures?

Yes. More than $500,000 will be spent by UF and other agencies to enhance security on campus and in the city of Gainesville for this event. This includes costs from the University of Florida Police Department, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol and other agencies providing first responders.

Why doesn’t UF make Spencer pay the full estimated $500,000 cost for security?

The application and assessment of security fees in the First Amendment context was litigated and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992.  The Court clarified that the government cannot assess a security fee on the speaker based upon the costs of controlling the reaction of potential hostile onlookers or protestors, under a legal doctrine called the “heckler’s veto.” As Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the Court in that case (Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement), “[s]peech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.” For UF, this means that Richard Spencer and his organization may not be made responsible for paying the costs of potential protestors, onlookers or members of the public outside of the speaking venue.  

How do I get tickets?

The University of Florida has been advised that the event organizer has decided to distribute its own tickets in lieu of using the University’s box office at the Phillips Center. The University has no other information on tickets for this event scheduled for Oct. 19, despite rumors of tickets being available starting Oct. 14 at the Phillips Center.

Why is the National Policy Institute distributing its own tickets?

Our contract requires the Phillips Center box office to print the tickets, not disburse them. While most organizations opt for the box office to distribute also, the National Policy Institute opted to distribute tickets themselves. It is their event, and the tickets are theirs to distribute. There is no violation of policy.

NEW: Will UF students be hosting any alternate events on the day of the Richard Spencer event?

UF student leaders are hosting a Virtual Assembly to air at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19. Virtual Assembly, part of a student-led campaign called #TogetherUF, will feature a series of videos and performances from around the UF community to open up dialogue about race relations, cooperation and diversity. UF students, faculty and staff will be able to view the assembly.

Throughout the Virtual Assembly, students are invited to join the conversation on Facebook at facebook.com/togetherufcampaign. They will be posing questions throughout the assembly and asking students to add their opinions and voices. Additionally, #TogetherUF will be holding Facebook-based fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 19.

More information about #TogetherUF can be found at https://www.facebook.com/togetherUFcampaign/.

Why did the governor declare a state of emergency?
Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order to provide for enhanced coordination among state, county and municipal agencies which may be called upon to assist law enforcement at the University of Florida on Oct. 19.
This measure, which came at the request of Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, is not in response to any specific heightened threat. It is a process that enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently. For example, agencies from multiple jurisdictions can be mobilized, if necessary, without bureaucratic delays.


Will classes be cancelled or UF be closed?

UF plans to be open for classes and operations on Oct. 19.

Can I get an excused absence from an exam or assignment for the day Spencer is on campus?

We understand that this event and possible protest provokes fear, especially for members of our Gator family who are targets of messages of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs. Faculty have been asked to be understanding with students on a case-by-case basis. However, faculty should not cancel classes without consulting with their Dean.


NEW: What is the most current information regarding access to the Reitz Union on the day before and day of the scheduled speaking event?


  • Wednesday October 18thwill have normal access with no ID required
  • Thursday October 19thwill have access points reduced to include only the North Lawn Doors and the Hotel entrance.

Welcome Center:

  • October 18- normal access, campus tours scheduled
  • October 19- Museum Road entrance doors locked, campus tours suspended 


  • The Bookstore and Gator 1 Central will be open Thursday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Food Service:

  • October 18- normal access, modified hours
  • October 19- employees will need photo ID, uniform, name tag for entranc

Event Services:

  • October 18- events schedule after 6 p.m. (including leisure courses) cancelled
  • October 19- events scheduled after 6 p.m. (including leisure courses) cancelled
NEW: Will any campus facilities be closed?

Campus classes will proceed on schedule except for some closures/cancellations related to proximity to the event including Fifield Hall, Entomology, Microbiology and the IFAS complex of buildings south of Hull Road.




Recreational Sports:

Southwest Recreation Center

  • On Oct. 18, the Southwest Recreation Center and UVS fields will close at 9 p.m. The building is closed on Oct. 19 and will reopen on Oct. 20. We are not accepting guest passes at any Recreational Sports facilities. 


  • Oct.19 building will be closed.

Student Recreation and Fitness Center

  • Oct. 18 - 19 normal operations

Broward and Graham Area Pools

  • Pools will be closed on Oct. 19 

Housing & Residence Education:

  • All residence halls and housing buildings will be swipe access only the week of Oct. 16-20

Counseling and Wellness Center:

  • The Counseling and Wellness Center on Radio Road will also be closed Oct. 19 but counselors will have walk-in hours for students available in Peabody Hall.

Newell Hall:

Beginning at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Newell Hall will be accessible by Gator 1 Cards through the closing of the building on Thursday, Oct. 19. The building’s operating hours are as follows: Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Friday, Oct. 20, Newell Hall will open at 8 a.m. and resume its normal schedule.  


Reitz Union:

  • On Oct. 18 - 19
    • Building hours will be 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Events and Leisure Courses scheduled in the Reitz Union after 6 p.m. will be canceled.
  • Oct. 19
    • Limited access to two entrances: North Lawn (Level 1) and Circle Drive Breezeway near Hotel front desk (Ground Level).
    • Gator 1 Card will be required to swipe at the door (entry limited to students, faculty, and staff).
    • The Museum Road entrance doors to the Welcome Center will be closed, and there will be no campus tours.
    • The Bookstore will only be accessible through the Reitz Union.

Disability Resource Center:

Students with appointments or tests at the Disability Resource Center will need to bring their Gator 1 Cards to the entrance at Reid Hall the week of Oct. 16-20 to gain entry.


Harn Museum of Art:

The museum will be closed Wednesday, Oct. 18, and Thursday, Oct. 19.


Florida Museum of Natural History:

The museum will be closed Thursday, Oct. 19, and plans to reopen at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 20.


Smathers Libraries:

The Smathers Libraries will be open regular hours, including 24 hour access to Library West Wednesday and Thursday night, but we will be checking ID and admitting only individuals with UF and Santa Fe ID cards (and of course uniformed law enforcement personnel) on Wednesday, Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.

Gator 1 Central:

Hours on Thursday, Oct. 19, will be from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Normal hours will resume Friday, Oct. 20.

Health Science Center Branch (HSC):

Operations will be closed Thursday, Oct. 19, and Friday, Oct. 20,. Normal hours will resume Monday, Oct. 23.


No other facility closures have been approved. Any closing considerations would need to be vetted and approved through the Office of the Chief Operating Officer.

What about classroom buildings or classrooms?

Some classrooms will be impacted due to their proximity to the Phillips Center. If this involves your classroom, you will be notified by your instructor or unit.

NEW: What buildings will have modified schedules or require a Gator 1 ID for entry?

The Smathers Libraries will be open regular hours, with 24-hour access to Library West on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and Thursday, Oct. 19, but IDs will be checked and only individuals with UF or Santa Fe College ID cards – and of course uniformed law enforcement personnel – will be permitted on either day, and possibly on Friday, Oct. 20.

Recreational Sports:
Southwest Recreation Center

  • UFID/hand scan access only as usual
  • 10/18 lounge space will close
  • 10/18 building will close at 9 pm
  • 10/19 building closed


  • 10/19 building will be closed
  • 10/18 & 10/19 normal operations

Student Recreation and Fitness Center:

  • 10/18 & 10/19 normal operations 

Housing & Residence Education:

  • All buildings will be UFID swipe access week of 10/16-10/20
  • 10/19 building will be closed
  • CWC will work out of Peabody Hall

Counseling and Wellness Center:

  • 10/19 building will be closed
  • CWC will work out of Peabody Hall

Newell Hall:

  • Beginning at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Newell Hall will be accessible by Gator 1 Cards through the closing of the building on Thursday, Oct. 19. The building’s operating hours are as follows: Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday, Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Friday, Oct. 20, Newell Hall will open at 8 a.m. and resume its normal schedule.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: normal access with no ID required
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: access points reduced to include only the North Lawn Doors and the Hotel entrance.

Reitz Union:


  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: normal access with no ID required
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: access points reduced to include only the North Lawn Doors and the Hotel entrance.

Welcome Center:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: normal access, campus tours scheduled
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: Museum Road entrance doors locked, campus tours suspended 


  • The Bookstore and Gator 1 Central will be open Thursday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Food Service:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: normal access, modified hours
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: employees will need photo ID, uniform, name tag for entranc

Event Services:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 18: events schedule after 6 p.m. (including leisure courses) cancelled
  • Thursday, Oct. 19: events scheduled after 6 p.m. (including leisure courses) cancelled

Gator Dining: 

Please visit the Gator Dining Website to view adjusted hours.

NEW: Will any athletic facilities be closed?

Yes, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be closed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 18th through 7 a.m. on Oct. 20th and Percy Beard Track will be closed on Oct. 18th and 19th and reopen at 6:30 a.m. on the 20th. The soccer match between Florida & Kentucky scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19, has been moved to Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Fla., at 5 p.m. that day.


As an employee, I am not comfortable coming to work on October 19. What should I do?

Employees are anticipated to work as scheduled.  However, we recognize that some employees will have special concerns. These employees should speak with their immediate supervisor about alternatives—such as working from home that day (if feasible), flexing their work schedule, or taking time off. Supervisors are encouraged to be understanding and address issues of concern on a case-by-case basis.  If assistance is needed to identify how best to address an employee’s concern, please contact Employee Relations in UF Human Resources.

Safety and Resources

What resources will be available to me?

Counselors with the Counseling & Wellness Center will be available for students, and the counselors with the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) will be available for faculty and staff.  On Wednesday, Oct. 18, the EAP also will be offering a group session for faculty and staff to discuss their concerns. The session will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Health Care Center, with other group sessions being scheduled as needed.

Peabody Hall will be the satellite office for the Counseling and Wellness Center on Oct. 19. Counselors will be holding walk-in hours only for students.

I’m fearful for my safety; what is UF doing to protect me?

There will be an increased level of security at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and across campus on Oct. 19 and on the days leading up to the event. Since late August, the UF Police have been coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on a comprehensive safety and security plan. UF has sought assistance from these organizations to be on campus before and after Oct. 19 to help keep campus safe and strictly enforce the law.

What do you recommend I do to ensure my personal safety?

Law enforcement agencies recommend that faculty, staff and students avoid the event and the area around the Phillips Center on Oct. 19. They also remind everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and report anything unusual or out of the ordinary. Please download the GATORSAFE app or call/text 911 directly if you see any activity that concerns you. All faculty, staff and students should carry their Gator 1 cards on Oct. 19, as some buildings will only be accessible using the keyless entry system.

Roads, Parking and Central Campus

I understand some roads and commuter parking lots will be closed. Will I be able to get to work? Where should I park?

The roads immediately around the Phillips Center will be closed for traffic, including possibly segments of SW 34thStreet. As such, the parking garage and lots in front of the Phillips Center will be inaccessible. Additionally, law enforcement encourages students, faculty and staff to avoid using the parking lot behind the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center on Oct. 19. We expect bus service to that area of campus will be limited.

Since campus parking will be especially limited that day, we recommend students and employees who generally park in that area find an alternative way to campus. Gainesville’s Regional Transit System offers numerous routes and stops with parking along 13th Street and University Avenue. Check out schedules here.

Parking for the residence halls near the Philips Center will be for residents only.

Will protesters come into the center of campus?

We do not know. Protesters are expected to assemble near the Phillips Center but we will have security across campus and in the community. Law enforcement will closely monitor groups marching into other areas of campus. The safety of our campus and community is our top priority.

What buses will be cancelled or rerouted?

With the road closures of parts of Hull Road and Bledsoe Drive on Oct. 19, Gainesville’s Regional Transit System has announced the following changes to the bus schedule for Oct. 19:

  • Route 117 (2 buses) - CLOSED
  • Route 118 (4 buses) - CLOSED
  • Route 119 (1 bus) - CLOSED
  • Route 125 (2 buses) - CLOSED
  • Route 20 (5 buses) - detoured to Radio Road
  • Route 21 (4 buses) - detoured to Radio Road
  • Route 28 (4 buses) - detoured to Radio Road
  • Route 33 (4 buses) - detoured to Radio Road

Enforcement of Laws and Campus Rules

What are the consequences of breaking the law or university rules?

All laws and rules of the university remain in place. All lawbreakers will be subject to arrest. UF students could face criminal prosecution as well as student conduct sanctions up to and including suspension or expulsion. Similarly, faculty and staff who break the law or university rules could face criminal prosecution and other consequences governed by university regulations. All police arrest reports are public records.

Will protesters be allowed to carry torches or wear masks? Can guns and other weapons be carried on campus?

Absolutely not. Law enforcement has created a list of prohibited items, which includes torches, masks and weapons of any kind. You can find the complete list here.

Why are water bottles on the prohibited items list?

Law Enforcement has advised that water bottles have previously been frozen, filled with substances other than water, and used as weapons. Water bottles are not being allowed because they can pose a safety hazard for protesters. Protesters are allowed to walk back and forth between the protest and their cars if they need refreshments.

Hate Speech, Racism and University Values 

Is hate speech protected speech at UF? Are faculty, students and staff free to speak hate?

Hate speech is speech that offends, insults or threatens a particular group, especially on the basis of religion, race, national origin, sexual orientation and other traits. The First Amendment protects hate speech, including symbols of hate such as a swastika, no matter how offensive it is. The First Amendment does not protect threats of violence, harassment or actual violence. 

As a public educational institution, UF may not ban hate speech. We do aspire for all members of the community ---faculty, staff and students---to exhibit high standards of behavior, as well as care and concern for others. We must balance our aspirations and values against our legal obligations to protect the First Amendment rights of all—even those with views and values contrary to UF’s fundamental principles. Given that, no employee or student can interfere with the freedom of speech or freedom of movement of any member or guest of the university. 

What is UF doing to promote a welcoming campus that celebrates all people – and how is it providing support for faculty, staff and students?

UF has been clear and consistent in its denunciation of all hate speech and racism and in particular of the racist speech and white nationalistic values of Richard Spencer.

UF student leaders have been working with Multicultural and Diversity Affairs and Student Activities and Involvement to host a series of events promoting dialogue, education, and embracing difference and unity. This includes a virtual assembly that will air at the same time as Richard Spencer’s speaking engagement. More details will be released soon.

Additionally, on Wednesday, Oct. 11, UF will hold a panel event titled, “A Conversation on the First Amendment” in the Rion Ballroom of the J. Wayne Reitz Union from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. This educational dialogue is co-hosted by Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, the Levin College of Law, the Bob Graham Center and the Brechner Center in the College of Journalism and Communications.


Has UF made previous statements regarding the Oct. 19th event?

Yes. All administration messages are posted here.

How will information be communicated on the day of the event?

Should anything happen at the Phillips Center or elsewhere on campus threatening safety, the UF community will be alerted through the UF Alert notification system.

All students and faculty and staff members are automatically enrolled to receive UF Alert text and email messages. To edit your UF Alert location settings, take the following steps:

  • Click on the “Access myUFL” button and sign in with your Gator Link username and password
  • Select the “Main Menu”
  • Under the “My Account” menu, click “Update Emergency Contact”
I am a parent / guardian / concerned citizen how do I sign up for UF Alerts?

There are many options available to receiving UF Alert notifications for people outside the UF identify management system.

  • Download the GATORSAFE app. To verify the notifications are enabled, go to "About / Preferences"  then "Notifications Settings" and verify that "Enable Notifications" is selected.
  • Subscribe an email address to the email RSS feeds.
  • Follow @UFAlert on Twitter and opt in to receive notification through Twitter.
  • Text “Follow UFAlert” to the number 40404. Please note this is a service of Twitter and not the UF Alert text messaging service for students, faculty and staff. UF Alert tweets are delivered as a SMS / text message from Twitter to your cell phone. Additional details are available at Twitter regarding their fast follow service.
How can I receive the most current information on this event?

Check this website for regular updates as questions and answers will be added to this list as needed. UF will update its information line 1-866-UF FACTS (1-866-833-2287) as new information is available. Security information can be found on police.ufl.edu.

Up-to-the-minute updates on bus schedules can be found www.Go-RTS.com.

Specific questions not addressed in this Q&A may be sent to public-affairs@ufl.edu.