STUDENT PROTEST: At Arkansas Tech

Free speech was the order of the day at Arkansas Tech University today — a  reaction to a university decision not to rename a  scholarship given in the name of a late professor accused of being a holocaust denier.

At last word, speech flowed freely, but no physical disputes. Video from TV reporters showed plenty of students, both protesting anti-Semitism and just gathering to watch, but little sign of a promised counter-protest from white supremacists.

The background: A number of publications have written about the Anti-Defamation League’s objection to the school awarding a scholarship in the name of the history professor who endowed it, the late Michael Link. He’s been accused of being a holocaust denier. The record shows that he, at least once, included in required course reading widely criticized works that question the Holocaust. The university has said it didn’t find substantiation of allegations against Link, though Jewish scholars have taken exception. You can read an extensive discussion of that issue here.

Students announced plans for a rally today to protest the continued naming of a scholarship for Link.

A white supremacist group led by a former Arkansas Tech student responded by urging supporters to go to campus in support of the university decision to retain the scholarship for Link. A couple of young people did appear to challenge whether evidence was sufficient to remove Link’s name from the scholarship.

But the supremacist group’s reputation stirred concerns about student safety, as well as criticism of neo-Nazis coming to campus at all. Tech President Robin Bowen posted a series of responses on Twitter: