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An Anti-Hate Group Has This Advice for When the Alt-Right Comes to Campus

Friday, August 11, 2017

For universities, the new academic year has nearly arrived. If it’s anything like last year, controversial speakers will be a consistent challenge for administrators and students alike.

More often than not, the speakers that generate the most controversy are those labeled right-wing reactionaries by their critics. Last fall, Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, launched a speaking tour to recruit college students to the alt-right, a loose group of white supremacists and online agitators. His speech at Texas A&M University at College Station saw protest become physical, a turn that would become common throughout the coming months.

The Southern Poverty Law Center wants to help students oppose hate speech without creating a spectacle that can be exploited.

During a visit to the University of California at Berkeley in February, the far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was greeted by masked protesters who smashed windows and set fires on the campus. Weeks earlier, a man was shot during a protest of a speech by Mr. Yiannopoulos at the University of Washington.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that monitors hate groups, wants to reduce the number of these protests gone awry. To that end, the center, which also monitored cases of anti-immigrant and race-based harassment after the presidential election, has issued a 20-page report with advice for students on how best to respond when a controversial speaker from the alt-right comes to campus. The guide, titled "The Alt-Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know," is geared toward student activists, but it also has relevance to administrators and faculty members on dealing with contentious speakers. Here are a few highlights:

Read the full Chronicle of Higher Education story.


"Perspectives" stories are the views and opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the University of Minnesota.