Letter to the editor: Robert Spencer’s appearance on campus will bring about harm to surrounding areas

As I’m sure The Spectrum knows, Robert Spencer, known bigot and Islamophobe, is coming to UB and the university is allowing his presence on our campus; a campus of diversity, where the Muslim population grows dramatically every year and Muslim students of every nationality leave their own countries to study in America. The America they came to study in doesn’t support bigotry, and their university wouldn’t allow for the use of hate speech on the very campus where hundreds of international students spend their days and nights.

This letter is brought on behalf of various clubs on campus and 1000+ students, faculty and staff who all believe strongly that a speaker such as Robert Spencer on campus will bring about harm to the surrounding areas. Speakers like Robert Spencer only do two things: rile up bigots, and annoy the people those bigots discriminate against.

Although yes, we should be having dialogues about these issues, we cannot have one-sided debates. Alyssa Biniewski, from the UB Undergraduate Society of Feminists, spells it out quite clearly, by saying, “There is plenty of opportunity for academic debate, discussion, and disagreement on this campus. Under no circumstances is there an excuse for welcoming/funding blatant and dangerous hate-speech that stigmatizes a particular population of our students.”

As students, we understand that people do have free speech and are allowed to exercise that right, but should the university allow a hate mongerer to spread his message on campus and around our community? Many of UB’s students, from the Muslim Student Association, the UB Sanctuary Campus Initiative, UB Feminist Society and even faculty, like Professor Carl Nightingale, from the Transnational Studies department, who said, “University scholars should stand up to this ill-meaning attack on their basic values not so much by stepping into its sponsors’ trap and forbidding events like this (unless verifiable possibility of associated violence can be established), but by confidently and publically clarifying the distinction between real scholarship on the one hand and, on the other, the carnival-barking and provocation offered by paid shills like Mr. Spencer.”

With all of this support on our campus to keep people like Robert Spencer away from our campus, we will be holding a sit in at the event, a table in the Knox hallway, telling people the truth behind Spencer and urging people who don’t believe what he says to not go into this event. We will be using our freedom of speech against him and his posse and will be holding an event targeted at debunking him and taking away any credibility he may have May 3rd, two days after his event.

Thank you,

Muslim Student Association

UB Sanctuary Campus Initiative

Black Student Union

UB Undergraduate Society of Feminists