Students now know how to safely react to the growing alt-right movement when its members visit college campuses.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group dedicated to stopping hate and extremism in America, released an alt-right campus guide as an attempt to counteract the movement while upholding the right of the First Amendment.
Lecia Brooks, the SPLC Outreach Director, said that center was pushed to release the guide after the alt-right movement began to recruit members from college campuses and how those colleges responded to the presence of the alt-right.
“White supremacists, who have branded themselves as ‘alt-right,’ are attempting to increase their ranks, raise their profile and advance the false narrative that white folks are being dispossessed in our society,” Brooks said.
The SPLC does not take free speech lightly and says that students must “unequivocally support the First Amendment - even for white supremacists.”
The First Amendment protects all speech, including that dubbed “hate speech.” Restrictions against speech in the amendment include those who are employers, who control educational services or regulate things such as mail, federal radio, law, prisons, and immigration.
The SPLC encourages students to “organize powerful and peaceful counter event to protest white supremacy,” and the guide was created to help them do just that.
Alt-Right figure Nicholas Fuentes told The Plainsman in the past that he will be planning to come to the Plains in January 2018 and “rally the troops in terms of this new right-wing movement.”
Brooks said that figures such as Fuentes and Richard Spencer, who visited the University last spring, are white nationalists and that it is important for the administration to “educate the community about what the alt-right advocates – white ethno-separate states.”
“Support student safety while honoring the First Amendment,” Brooks said.
The SPLC believes that the alt-right movement has the right to exercise the First Amendment but encourages colleges to know what are the restrictions of free speech. The guide will help colleges, like Auburn, understand how to react to alt-right figures on their campuses.
“[The guide] would have made it clear to campus administrators that is was the absolute wrong thing to do to cancel Spencer’s visit in the first place,” Brooks said about how the university could have benefitted from the guide during last spring’s reaction to Spencer being on campus.
The guide was released on Aug. 10, 2017, and is free to the public on the SPLC’s website.