Sean Spicer’s Impact on the Student Body

María Vazquez, Co-Managing Editor

When Sean Spicer came to Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) a lot of students and staff were against the idea. Consequently, this led to a protest against it. I have read multiple articles regarding this protest, the majority stayed neutral, whereas, some supported the students and others criticized them. I have yet to read an article that has a student’s perspective and that is not neutral. That is the purpose of this piece, to give you at least one student perspective. 

When it was announced that Sean Spicer was coming to campus for the Daniel L. Goodwin Distinguished Lecture Series, I could not believe it and I could not understand why it was that NEIU chose to bring him. Then it was announced that a town hall was being held in regards to this to provide students the opportunity to discuss this upcoming lecture series. When I attended the town hall I heard the voices of students who were fearful, angry and/or disappointed in the school. They asked questions and voiced their opinions, but no one was there to give them answers. A question that kept coming to my head and a question that everyone else had was, “why did the school choose him?” but it was never answered. At the town hall we learned that this series would not have mics for audience members to ask questions, rather questions were sent beforehand— this filtered the conversation. It is important to note, however, that someone from the Student Government Association (SGA) was taking notes and writing down the questions being asked to then be shared with Dr. Gibson who would then answer them. I never received an email with answers nor did I hear back from SGA regarding this, but maybe I missed the memo. 

After the town hall, a group of students gathered together to plan what we could do to stop this because it was clear that the administration was not taking us seriously. Before deciding to protest we took a different approach. For instance, we emailed Dr. Gibson stating why Sean Spicer should not be brought to NEIU, we reached out to organizations who were also against the idea and they also emailed Dr. Gibson. We never heard from Dr. Gibson, at least not until the day before where she expressed that she was moving forward with having Sean Spicer on campus. It could be possible that the organizations never emailed her or maybe her email notifications were off. After receiving the email that she was moving forward with the lecture, we decided to protest. 

We were criticized by many, not just outsiders, but by professors and staff members of the university for protesting. They thought we were childish and needed to grow up. The professors and staff who did support us were also criticized by it, but to them, I want to express my sincerest appreciation because it is professors like them that truly care about their students. What people need to understand is that we are not against the idea of having a discussion with opposing views, what we were against was bringing a man like him to campus. A man who basically stands against what the university represents and who under his position, made decisions that affected many of the students at NEIU and/or their families. There are so many people they could have chosen, why him? See that is the thing, we never truly got an answer as to why he was chosen.

Whatever the reason, I do have to acknowledge that good things came out of this experience. One, it showed students that we are capable of coming together and defending our beliefs even if many people are against us, especially those of power. Two, it showed us who truly supports and cares about us as students, no matter the adversity. Three, it taught us the importance of using our voices to be heard even when they try to quiet us down. Lastly, it reminded us that this will continue to be an ongoing fight in and out of school, so it is important to stand our ground and support those who might be afraid to speak up.