Labor union slams UMass for letting Sean Spicer speak
- A University of Massachusetts employee labor union is slated to protest an appearance by former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
- The group claims that Spicer holds "white supremacist" views and condemned the university administration for giving him a platform.
The University of Massachusetts Graduate Employee Organization protested former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer ahead of his appearance at the Amherst campus on Tuesday night.
The UMass Amherst College Republicans announced Spicer as its Fall 2018 guest speaker in a Facebook post on Nov. 1. Spicer will discuss his time as President Donald Trump's top spokesman, as well as his new book, according to the post.
On Monday, just hours before Spicer's talk, the UMass Graduate Employee Organization, a labor union, invited its supporters to meet outside the building where Spicer will speak in order to "create a space that embraces the voices that the Sean Spicer's [sic] want to erase."
"We aim to create a platform for the voices that have been silenced on our campus, not the voices of white supremacy, which always have the mic," the GEO's Facebook post states.
"Sean Spicer's support for the travel ban, as well as his comments downplaying the severity of the Holocaust, and his role in espousing alternative facts for the Trump administration, are all reasons why the UMass Amherst administration should think more critically when presented with the decision of giving him a platform," the post adds.
The group goes on to state the "danger in legitimizing [Spicer's] voice in an academic setting is real and demonstrably counter to both the safety of the people who work and study at UMass and their sense of belonging to an institution which would purport to protect them."
Nicole Neily, founder of Speech First, reacted to the labor union's protest in a statement to Campus Reform.
"The beauty of the First Amendment is that it creates an environment where members of the UMass community can choose to either attend Sean Spicer’s presentation or the Graduate Employee Organization’s protest," Neily said.
"It’s refreshing to see (at least on the Facebook page) that the organizers aren’t calling for Spicer’s lecture to be disrupted or canceled. After all, students and faculty deserve the opportunity to listen to Spicer’s remarks and to decide how they feel about his anecdotes and his role in this administration – that is not a decision that protesters should be making unilaterally for others. Counter-programming – as long as it’s peaceful, of course – is a hallmark of a robust democracy," Neily added.
The University of Massachusetts did not provide a comment in time for publication.
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