UF hosts Richard Spencer appearance


On Oct. 19, the University of Florida Gainesville campus hosted self-proclaimed alt-right white nationalist, Richard Spencer – the first college appearance for Spencer since the violent events that unfolded in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

This comes after the university originally tried to block Spencer from speaking on its campus but the decision was later appealed because UF is a public institution. Therefore, the university could not prevent someone from speaking because of his or her specific topic or beliefs.

The decision, however, was not met without great controversy. In the days leading to the event, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a State of Emergency for the county where UF’s main campus is located. Law enforcement officials from across the state have been on high-alert since Monday, Oct. 16 and Scott said he was also going to have the National Guard on standby for the event.

Once Spencer arrived on campus, there was almost immediate protest among the UF community, with many students showing their opposition to the infamous speaker. During his speech, many students stood and began shouting “black lives matter,” and “go home Spencer.”

This story received a lot of news media attention throughout the day, but some of the best coverage came from students who were right in the middle of the protests. Students began sharing short videos and photos on social media and news outlets such as CNN began sharing similar content.

For many college students, Twitter is a great tool for news coverage and this situation was no exception. Social media give people the opportunity to connect with other like-minded people, along with getting more diverse information in a timely matter.

But social media are not the only platform that was able to cover this story with a relatable point-of-view. In today’s social environment, people are quick to share their opinions, even in the news media.

Thankfully, this has paved the way for more “relatable” platforms and reporting for many. During the coverage of Spencer’s speech, the conversation in the news and online began to discuss the larger issues at hand than just Spencer’s speech, and the groups he represents.

Modern news media coverage has lead to a new dialogue for reporting and has allowed many to feel a personal connection to any given story – starting the conversation and sometimes leading to new inspirations for change.