GAINESVILLE (CBSMiami) – The mood on the University of Florida’s campus is a mixture of anxiety and shock as the school prepares for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s visit.
Helicopters buzzed over the school Wednesday night as students try to go about normalcy.
The campus is anything but.
“So far two out of my three classes for Thursday are canceled,” said freshman Olivia Marquez.
Dozens of state troopers are doing final walk-through in what could be a violent protest.
The protests planned will be roughly a block away from where Spencer will be speaking at the campus performing arts center.
“It’s 2017. I honestly thought this should not be happening,” said Jonathan Lee, a sophomore.
Many students like Lee, a sophomore from Miami, are heeding their parents advice to stay away.
“I just stocked up on food and I’m going to be staying in the dorm all day,” he said.
UF claims they faced a discrimination lawsuit that they likely would have lost had they objected to Spencer speech. So instead they reluctantly agreed.
“So what we did instead was we worked with their lawyer to make sure we had input when, where how this event occurred. And so it’s at 2:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. In a facility at the edge of campus. And we had a lot of input into that,” said University of Florida spokeswoman Janine Sikes.
The University of Florida is home to 52,000 students. UF also has the largest Jewish student population in the country.
“Right now I feel our whole world is living in fear,” said Fara Moskowitz, president of the Lubavitch Student Jewish Center.
Jewish organizations on campus are concerned and have added extra security.
“We are receiving calls from alumni and parents who concerned physically for the safety of their students that are here,” said Rabbi Berl Goldman.
The campus has responded with a message of love. Greek houses are flying banners of “#TogetherUF.”
The university is anticipating not only white supremacist supporters but alt-left protesters known as Antifa.
They were on the ground in Charlottesville in August, visibly fighting.
Dressed in military garb, they are known for inciting violence and destroying property to stop racist events.
“We are prepared from a law enforcement aspect. But the big questions is what is going to happen tomorrow and that’s what we don’t know,” said Sikes.
There are plans for discussions on social media tomorrow during the speech.
As for the tickets, there was an interesting issue. The university was supposed to hand those out on a first come first serve basis.
UF bars made a move to try and shut the speech down by offering free beers for people who brought in tickets. The idea is everyone would be at the bar, not at the speech.
Spencer’s organization shut that down. They’re handing out the tickets by hand at around 1 p.m. Thursday. They will pick and choose who gets a ticket, essentially based on how you look.
An alt-right demonstration was expected at Depot Park Wednesday night. CBS4’s David Sutta passed by but only saw families and about eight police officers.