Illinois prof. helps lead effort to 'cancel' Sean Spicer on-campus appearance

  • Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is set to speak at Northeastern Illinois University on Thursday.
  • But Spicer's appearance is being met with quite a bit of protest.
  • One NEIU professor "hosted" a Facebook event calling on the school to "cancel" Spicer's talk.

Students and faculty at Northeastern Illinois University launched a petition and plan to protest Thursday's scheduled on-campus appearance by former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who will participate in a discussion on the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, along with former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile. 

A Facebook event titled "Rally to Stop Sean Spicer at NEIU," states in its description that, as President Donald Trump's press secretary, Spicer "terrorized many NEIU students, their families and their communities," adding that "NEIU should not provide a home for white nationalism and other forms of bigotry." 

"It would be an affront to humanity to host Spicer at NEIU."   

Organizers of the rally to protest the discussion go on to say Trump's rhetoric and policies are"drivers" of the "escalating right-wing violence in this country and around the world."

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 'White supremacist' Sean Spicer speech leaves UMass labor union salty]

"The role Spicer played—and that the Trump administration continues to play—in this violence is one of creating space for these acts to occur," the description says. "Any platform he is provided, including ones where people are allowed to debate and argue these policies, serves to legitimize these policies, and creates more space for right-wing extremists to escalate their attacks on our communities."

The Facebook event description calls on the university to "cancel this event." 

"If they do not, we ask the university community and other impacted communities to join us as we rally to demand that NEIU be a safe place for everyone, and that we not use our university to provide platforms for this hatred."

One Facebook user commented on the event, asking, "does anyone, perhaps a student at the school, have an idea of when/how/where he might arrive on campus?" One of the "hosts" of the Facebook event, NEIU Sociology Professor Brett Stockdill, responded, "We do not." 

The same Facebook user who posted the question then said, "that’s a shame. He could use a milkshake." 

Campus Reform has previously reported on alleged Antifa members throwing drinks, such as milkshakes, at conservatives. 

[RELATED: WATCH: Alleged Antifa members hurl eggs, drink at Trump supporters]

On August 26, Stockdill posted on his personal Facebook page, "We've opened up the SAY NO TO SEAN SPICER letter to everyone who opposes bigotry, violence and lying. Please sign and share. You can send the link below to folks to sign the letter. Also, save the date--Sept. 12, 7:30pm, Northeastern Illinois University Auditorium--in case we need to protest."

In the post, Stockdill linked to an open letter to NEIU President Gloria Gibson, which states "we are appalled that former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been invited to speak at Northeastern Illinois University. This is an insult to all NEIU students and employees who are members of groups targeted with violence and vitriol by the Trump administration."

The letter goes on to label the policies of the Trump "regime" as "fascist." 

"It would be an affront to humanity to host Spicer at NEIU. We urge you to withdraw the invitation immediately," the letter concludes. 

Dozens of individuals, from NEIU faculty members, students, as well as faculty members at other colleges have signed the letter. 

But NEIU spokesman Michael Hines told the Chicago Tribune that the event will go on, despite the backlash. 

"It is heartwarming to see that Northeastern Illinois University supports freedom of expression, in allowing both protests and Sean Spicer’s event to proceed as planned," Matthew Pinna, chair of the Illinois College Republicans Federation, told Campus Reform. "Preserving the right of students to speak how they please is absolutely essential for a true environment of learning."

"What should be condemned, however, is the request made by an overwhelmingly vocal minority of NEIU’s population to rescind Sean Spicer’s invitation," Pinna added. "Preventing speech helps no one; whether you abhor or adore the speaker’s ideology, the best way to combat or develop it is through listening to the speaker themselves."

Neither NEIU nor Stockdill responded to Campus Reform in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Facebook: @JonStreetDC and Twitter: @JonStreet



STAY INFORMED
Get exclusive access to breaking CampusReform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we'll keep you in the loop.
 Weekly Digest

 Daily Emails

Jon Street
Jon Street | Managing Editor

Jon Street is a news editor for Campus Reform. Six years ago, Jon cut his reporting teeth fresh out of college as an intern at Media Research Center's CNSNews.com, where he interviewed multiple members of Congress and former presidential candidates. From there, he went on to complete a stint at Watchdog.org, where his exclusive, investigative work was picked up or cited by the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, National Review, and the Drudge Report, among others. More recently, Jon spent three years as an assistant editor at TheBlaze.com. In his free time, Jon enjoys trying new coffeehouses around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and traveling back to his home state of Missouri to spend time with his family.

20 Articles by Jon Street