Texas A&M University has said that no one on its staff invited the 'alt-right' white supremacist leader Richard Spencer to speak on campus, but that it cannot stop his appearance.
Dallas News reports that Spencer – the president of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white supremacist think-tank, which is classed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) – has been invited to speak at A&M next month.
According to the A&M student newspaper Battalion, Spencer will be giving a speech about the 'alt-right' movement – a racist, white supremacist movement that Spencer is credited with founding, that aims to challenge traditional conservatism in the US.
Spencer's speech plans to explain what the alt-right is and its potential impact on the US.
Spencer became infamous after a video appeared of his speech at the NPI celebrating the election of President-elect Donald Trump, which a crowd chanting "Hail Trump!" while giving Nazi salutes.
A&M University is a publicly funded education and research institution.
In a statement to A&M student newspaper Battalion, senior vice president Amy Smith, said: "Texas A&M University – including faculty, staff, students and/or student groups - did not invite [Preston] 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."
Smith went on to explain that: "Private citizens are permitted to reserve space available to the public as we are a public university as is the case here. Public groups must cover all rental expenses so that state resources are not burdened."
Spencer was reportedly invited to speak at the institution by Preston Wiginton – a former student of A&M, who, like Preston, is described as an "academic racist" by SPLC.
Wiginton studied at A&M for two years, before relocating to Russia. The Battallion reported he has invited white supremacist speakers to speak at A&M university before.
A problem of 'timing'
Opinion over Spencer's appearance is divided amongst A&M students. The Battallion quoted Rodney Young, a member of an on-campus anti-racist group, saying: "I can assume [Preston is] going to say some very derogatory terms towards ethnic groups, which is why I'm apprehensive about it. Ultimately, I can't be upset about him coming because he has the right to say what he wants."
Stephanie Akin, a freshman, objected to the timing of Spencer's appearance. "It's not exactly the right time for him to come and speak, especially after the recent videos going around with Nazi-ish tendencies," she said.
Spencer is due to appear at the university on 6 December.
Breitbart – the extreme right-wing online publication, which was run by Donald Trump's adviser Steven Bannon – denies the 'alt-right' is a racist group, instead describing it as a group of intellectuals and online activists who are "young, creative and eager to commit secular heresies".
The SPLC describes the alt-right, as a group of "far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that 'white identity' is under attack by multicultural forces using 'political correctness' and 'social justice' to undermine white people and 'their' civilization" and holds "white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value".