From Charlottesville to College Station, Colleges Weigh Free Speech Rights Against Student Safety

AUSTIN — Just 48 hours after they’d watched a demonstrator get mowed down during a deadly protest near the University of Virginia, Texas A&M officials huddled nervously around a conference room table and stared at a press release that said their campus could be next."CHARLOTTESVILLE TODAY. TEXAS A&M TOMORROW," blared the email penned by Preston Wiginton, a former student who wanted to bring white nationalist Richard Spencer to College Station.Spencer had been there in Charlottesville, leading scores of torch-bearing, chanting men across UVA's campus. One of his very next stops, on Sept. 11, would be A&M.Spencer’s visits had roiled College Station before. This time, law enforcement warned of possible violence, and A&M officials saw social media posts telling attendees to ready their weapons, instructing them on how to break down and reassemble their guns.But Wiginton’s email, sent the day the Charlottesville protests turned deadly, spurred them to action. The next Monday, A&M’s leaders decided there was only one way to guarantee the safety of their community: Shut Spencer down.  Continue reading...

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