COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Texas A&M University has criticized the views of a White nationalist who is planning a “White lives matter” rally on campus next month, but lawmakers in the state Legislature are calling on the school to go farther and block the event entirely.
A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith told The Battalion student newspaper that Preston Wiginton’s rhetoric is “counter to the core values of Texas A&M.”
Smith said in an earlier statement to The Dallas Morning News that the university didn’t invite any white nationalists, but that it can’t stop them from coming. She said anyone can reserve space on the public university’s campus.
Smith declined comment to The Associated Press.
On the House floor on Monday, Dallas Democratic Rep. Helen Giddings said that A&M administrators should “unequivocally denounce and fight against” racist groups and that Texas should reject hate in all forms with one voice. Nearly every House member stood alongside her.
Rep. Paul Workman, an Austin Republican, said a petition being circulated for A&M graduates in the House is attempting to “keep this from going on on our campus.” The Legislature are in a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott that ends Wednesday but have not taken any formal legislative action on the issue.
Wiginton said he’s invited prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer to address the rally, set for Sept. 11, but it’s not clear if Spencer will attend.
Wiginton, a former A&M student, said he was inspired by the recent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally turned chaotic Saturday when a vehicle plowed into a group of counterprotesters, killing at least one and injuring 19.
If Spencer were to attend the rally, it would be his second appearance on the A&M campus within a year.
Wiginton also invited him in December, when Spencer was met by hundreds of protesters, many of whom gathered at Kyle Field to hear music and speeches highlighting diversity and unity to counter Spencer’s appearance.
A&M has since changed its policy to require that any group wishing to hold an event in a building must have a campus sponsor. No sponsor has been identified for the Sept. 11 rally, so any gathering would have to be held outdoors.