UConn issues new rules after speaker arrest
Updated 6:50 pm, Monday, December 4, 2017
STORRS — In the future, the University of Connecticut plans to vet not only guest speakers but also their traveling companions.
The change was announced Monday in a campus-wide email by UConn President Susan Herbst following last week’s arrest of Lucian Wintrich, a conservative speaker who went after an audience member.
“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,” Herbst said.
Herbst sent out the notice after The Huffington Post identified Wintrich’s traveling companion as Salvatore “Sal” Cipolla, who is known to frequent neo-Nazi events.
“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.”
Wintrich was invited to campus by College Republicans to give a talk titled “It’s OK to be white.” He was heckled from the beginning and peppered with chants of “Go home, Nazi” before a member of the audience ran down and grabbed his note papers from his lectern before running off. Wintrich gave pursuit and was charged with breach of peace when he reportedly grabbed the audience member from behind.
Herbst said the new guidelines will include a mandated review process for events that could potentially present a safety risk to the campus community.
“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 said. “Speech and safety do not conflict with each other.”
University Spokesman Stephanie Reitz said the university still won’t accept or reject programming based on content.
“The new review guidelines are administrative in nature and have nothing to do with content,” Reitz said. “In the Wintrich case, for example, we would have told the College Republicans that if they wanted their program to move forward, the man that the Huffington Post later wrote about couldn’t be part of it because of his violent past.”