2017 Speeches


Upholding the First Amendment

October 13, 2017
Tangeman University Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Oh.


Dear UC Community,


I write to inform you that the University of Cincinnati will uphold the First Amendment and allow Richard Spencer to speak on campus. We are still working to finalize the specific date and details of such a visit. 

As a state institution, we must adhere to the foundational rights embedded in the First Amendment. That includes protecting speech of all types at all times—even, perhaps especially, words that are blatantly hateful or offensive. After all, we cannot silence those with whom we disagree without opening the doors to our own voices being silenced by those who disagree with us. 

To be clear: Spencer, a white nationalist from the National Policy Institute, was not invited by any student, faculty or staff group affiliated with UC. In fact, countless members of our community have courageously pointed out that his ideology of hate and exclusion is antithetical to the core values of a civil society and an academic community. I stand with you in condemning dehumanizing views and racist practices.

In preparing for Spencer’s visit, know that your safety and security will be our top priority. We will work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to implement a comprehensive plan for safety and security. 

At other public universities, presidents have asked their constituents to steer clear of such events, attempting to deny these attention seekers the spotlight they so desperately desire. Frankly, if or how you engage with Spencer’s event is your decision to make, and I will respect and support whatever civil and peaceful course you take. 

My only request is that you find time and space on that day, of all days, to do two things. 

First, reflect on what makes our learning community so extraordinary. For me, that competitive edge is our diversity—of backgrounds and beliefs, of identities and ideas, of perspectives and pathways. And no doubt it is the power and promise of that diversity to change the world for the better that has the hate-filled so unsettled. 

Here I want to extend a special message of support to members of our community who feel targeted directly by Spencer. His hate only makes our love for you stronger. You are the reason this university is a first-class destination for the best and the brightest. Your difference is our strength, our pride, our purpose. 

Second, make it a priority to recognize the humanity around us. Let’s seize this opportunity to live into action the values of inclusion, respect, responsibility and dignity that we all hold dear. Indeed, now is the time to make our Bearcat bond stronger than ever. 

In the coming days, we will share additional information on this event, including a Q&A resource related to free speech, alternative programming, safety and logistics. Moving forward, we ask for your patience, support and understanding as we prepare for a trying time for our community. 




Neville G. Pinto