UConn to start vetting speakers 'that may present a risk'

The University of Connecticut is planning to vet future speakers and all their traveling companions following a heated altercation during a campus event last week.

According to The CT Post, the policy change was announced Monday by UConn President Susan Herbst, who explained that the new protocols will be operational before the start of the next semester.

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“I have asked the Division of Student Affairs to prepare new guidelines for speakers and events sponsored by UConn student groups that may present a risk to the campus community,” Herbst wrote. “These changes...will be implemented before the start of the spring semester.”

The announcement comes just days after the arrest of a conservative provocateur Lucian Wintrich, who was charged with breach of peace after attempting to forcibly retrieve his lecture notes from a female protester who had snatched them from the podium.

Wintrich, who is the White House correspondent for conservative website Gateway Pundit, was invited to deliver a lecture titled “It’s OK to be white,” where protesters greeted him with waves of anti-fascist chants and accused him of being a Nazi.

According to a recent report by The Blaze, the woman who stole the speaker’s notes was also later identified as an employee of a local community college.

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“We will not allow events or other programming to take place at UConn if the university determines that an individual involved represents a danger to our community and the safety of our campuses,” Herbst maintained. “Speech and safety do not conflict with each other.”

The policy change also follows a critical report published by The Huffington Post that identified one of the speaker’s companions as a frequent attendee of neo-Nazi gatherings, including a white supremacist march in Charlottesville.  

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“While last week’s speaker had no criminal history or record of disruption, the university was disturbed to later learn that an individual traveling with him—whose identity was not known in advance by the university—has at least one arrest for a violent offense in addition to other very troubling aspects of his record,” the official said.

University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz assured the CT Post that “the new review guidelines are administrative in nature and have nothing to do with content,” explaining that in the case of the Wintrich event, only his traveling companion would have been barred from attending “because of his violent past.”

University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz told Campus Reform that the “new review guidelines are administrative in nature, and have nothing to do with content,” stressing that the school “continues to hold free speech among its principle values.”

“It’s critical to emphasize that these changes are not about finding reasons to cancel programming,” she continued. “Rather, it is about making sure that student groups and the university are both aware of what a particular speaker or program may entail so we can plan properly, which could include taking steps to mitigate possible risks that fall short of canceling a speaker.”

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