UPDATE: [4/16/18] The event has been cancelled. Associated Vice President for Communications, Division of Strategic Communication Monica Watts provided the following statement:
Students for America First does not currently meet the registered student organization requirements. Consistent with UA policy, the group’s registered status has been withdrawn, and its proposed event this week will not go forward. Prior to having its registered status withdrawn and becoming inactive, the group had an opportunity to comply with the requirements of a registered UA student organization, but was unable to do so. If its status changes in the future, the group will be given the opportunity to re-register, gaining the privileges of registered student organizations, including the ability to host events and speakers in campus facilities.
For any student group to host an event through UA’s student event registration process, it must be a registered student organization, which requires, among other things, having a full-time UA faculty or staff advisor. This content-neutral policy applies to all student groups, regardless of a group’s views or the substance of its proposed event. As previously stated, the University is committed to free speech, which is evident in the wide array of viewpoints our registered student organizations have recently brought to campus.
The fact that a registered student organization Students for America First has invited a racist to speak at The Capstone may suggest that there are students at the University that identify with racist ideas such as white nationalism.
AL.com’s Ben Flanagan reported:
A speaker who identifies as a white nationalist has been invited to speak at the University of Alabama, according to university president Stuart Bell.
Bell informed faculty and students via email that a UA student organization invited the speaker, not the school. Bell did not identify the speaker or the student organization that invited the person.
“A registered student organization invited a speaker to our campus in mid-April who has been identified as a white nationalist,” Bell’s email says. “This ideology is counter to our institutional values. The University of Alabama did not invite this individual. UA stands for the equality of all people.”
University officials confirmed Jared Taylor was invited by the student organization America First to speak at UA on April 19.
Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance, an online publication which asserts: “Race and racial conflict are at the heart of some of the most serious challenges the Western World faces in the 21st century….Attempts to gloss over the significance of race or even to deny its reality only make problems worse.”
“Taylor projects himself as a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist — a kind of modern-day version of the refined but racist colonialist of old,” the Southern Poverty Law Center once wrote of Taylor.
The University’s administration has reportedly received complaints that the Students for America First organization has harassed undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff. With the speaking engagement of Jared Taylor, the student organization will possibly gain even more traction on campus.
The faculty advisor for Students for America First is Associate Professor of Statistics Bruce Barrett. Barrett bans certain types of apparel and cell phones from his classes according to the Rate My Professors‘ site. One student commented: “Professor takes a big game about freedom of speech, even is the faculty advisor for a white nationalist student group on campus. However he discourages students from expressing themselves (not being able to wear certain clothing, have phones, or talk openly in class). Beware of this professor and how he’ll treat you like not another equal person.” But he has many favorable comments from students as well.
The University of Alabama and the Division of Student Life are committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus community in which every student can thrive.
The University’s President has said that the student organization “followed appropriate policies and processes” in inviting Jared Taylor and that the University’s “commitment to free speech” precludes banning such a speaker from the campus. But by allowing such a student organization to be formed the University has made its goal of promoting diversity a harder task.