Sean Spicer's Harvard talks were kept "off the record" and he told lies, student says

A Harvard student wrote a scathing critique of his university for letting Spicer repeatedly speak unchallenged

Published November 4, 2017 12:02PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

As a visiting fellow at Harvard University's school of government, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer has only given speeches off-the-record, according to a student at the university.

Daniel C. Drabik, a master's student at the Harvard Kennedy School, penned a scathing takedown of his school for allowing Spicer to address students without the fear of being challenged.

"During his time on campus, Spicer had closed-door forums with select faculty and fellows, spoke in a few chosen classes, and attended invite-only meals with selected groups of students," Drabik wrote in The Harvard Crimson. "In total, 11 events over three days, all off the record, none open to the general student body or public."

Drabik continued, "This was Sean Spicer’s secret Harvard fellowship. All of us should push the School to not allow this level of secrecy for a Fellow again."

The student also pointed out that when Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf rescinded the fellowship of notable whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, he wrote in a memo that the institution does not "shy away from controversy."

"We do not shy away from that controversy, we insist that all speakers take questions, and these questions are often hard and challenging ones," Elmendorf wrote in his memo, after Manning's fellowship stirred controversy and was eventually rescinded.

But Drabik reminded Elmendorf of his own words and questioned the obvious contradictions.

"Why then did Harvard shy away from controversy while Spicer was here on campus?" Drabik asked. "When given the opportunity to have an open dialogue with a controversial figure, the School chose to secretly shuttle Sean Spicer from restricted event to restricted event."

Drabik continued, "What lessons does this teach future leaders and policymakers about accountability and transparency?"

But even while the events had remained off-the-record, it didn't stop Spicer from telling lies, according to Drabik.

Drabik wrote that he attended a "classroom session with Spicer" in which the former Trump mouthpiece "told the same stories, including several easily refutable lies, that he’s told publicly since leaving the White House."

The student added that Spicer's routine was also still the same: "Dodge hard questions, make a few false statements, attack the media, claim that Trump is treated unfairly, etc."

Drabik argued that students deserve a chance to engage in open dialogue with controversial speakers because "constructive civil discourse isn’t comfortable and easy; it’s awkward and challenging." But he wrote that Harvard "valued the comfort of itself and its guest more than it valued providing a learning opportunity for its students."

By Charlie May

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