"My Stomach Turning": Reaction from MSU Student Body President to White Nationalist's Speech Request

Aug 16, 2017

Michigan State University president Lorenzo Santavicca is not happy with a request from a white nationalist organization to speak on campus next month. 


MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said the request came from the National Policy Institute. In a statement, she said the solicitation is being closely reviewed in light of last weekend's deadly violence in Charlottesville. 

NPI is led by Richard Spencer, who has called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" and an "all-white ethnostate."

"The reaction that I had [to the request] was one of my stomach turning," said MSU student body president Lorenzo Santavicca

“Events like these are unfortunately becoming things of the norm on college campuses and we have to do better to show that’s not something we want on this campus," he said.  "Anything that's going to produce academic value, that's obviously something that we want on this campus. But something's that going to incite violence, something that's going to incite extremism, something like that doesn't seem to hold value on our campus. That's been my message going forward to the president, administrators as well as the trustees."

Santavicca was one of 180 student leaders across America who signed a letter to say they’ll do what they can to avoid a repeat of last week’s events at the University of Virginia.

White nationalists descended on the U of VA campus Friday night with burning tiki torches while chanting "Jews will not replace us and White Lives Matter."

The University of Florida declined Spencer's request to speak. Texas A&M University canceled his speech. Both schools cited security concerns.

Santavicca wanted assure any students who may worried about the speech.

"Trust that there are going to be here for you," said Santavicca. "Whether it's advocating to protect the safety and security of students on this campus. Also, recognize that we have a campus community of over 50,000 on this campus. Anywhere we go we know there's going to be a small minority of people that aren't going to be inclusive."

"One of our core values as Spartans is to be inclusive," said Santavicca. "And as our institution goes forward, if we truly are going to stick to our values, we will consider that as we look at not only this current request on the docket and as we go forward into next year and years following that."