Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and a leading voice of the so-called alt-right movement, is scheduled to speak on the campus of Texas A&M University next month, the Battalion reported Wednesday.
But university officials sought to distance themselves from the appearance, saying in a statement on Wednesday that “private citizens are permitted to reserve space available to the public as we are a public university.”
Spencer, who heads a think tank called the National Policy Institute, has defined the alt-right – short for “alternative right” – as a set of ideologies with a core belief in white identity and a racially homogeneous society. Critics of the movement says its rhetoric is racist and advocates white supremacy.
The profile of the alt-right movement has been elevated ever since President-elect Donald Trump named former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon his chief strategist. Bannon has described Breitbart, a conservative news outlet, as “the platform for the alt-right.”
Spencer, who will be speaking at Rudder Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, gained wider notoriety this week after video from a national alt-right conference showed supporters raising their arms in an apparent Nazi salute after Spencer told the crowd, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory.”
Trump, in an interview Tuesday with the New York Times, disavowed the alt-right group in the video.
According to the Battalion, white nationalist Preston Wiginton, who attended A&M briefly from 2006 to 2007 and has brought other white nationalist speakers to the university, organized the event.
A&M University spokesperson Amy B. Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Texas A&M, provided a public statement that sought to clarify that Spencer was not invited by the university.
“To be clear, Texas A&M University – including faculty, staff, students and/or student groups – did not invite this speaker to our campus nor do we endorse his rhetoric in any way. In fact, our leadership finds his views as expressed to date in direct conflict with our core values,” the statement said.