Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

GEO holds protest against Sean Spicer talk

‘A vigil not for death, but for life and dreams’
(Collegian file photo)

The University of Massachusetts Graduate Employment Organization held a protest in front of the Student Union on Tuesday evening against former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s appearance and instances of white supremacy on campus.

Spicer was invited by the UMass College Republicans to be their fall guest speaker, as they planned on holding an event later in the day at the Fine Arts Center.

Prachi Goyal, a labor studies graduate student and co-chair of GEO, kicked off the protest by stating the organization’s three-part mission. The first being to hold University administration accountable for its handling of white supremacy on campus; the second to reimagine the future as being one without oppression and violence; and the third to create space for marginalized people on campus to speak out.

“This is our campus and this is our space,” said Mary Dickman, GEO mobilization coordinator and communication Ph.D. student.

However, according to the organizers, the issues being protested have existed on campus long before Spicer’s appearance.

Part of the reason why Alyssa Goldstein, co-chair of GEO and sociology Ph.D. student, protested was because she believed campus campaigns such as “Hate Has No Home At UMass,” were not taken seriously by University officials, especially in regards to the racial threats in Melville Hall this semester.

“People are facing violence and hatred all the time [on campus], not just when Spicer’s here,” Jocelyn Silverlight, president of UAW 2322, the local union chapter that GEO is a part of. The union also represents resident assistants, peer mentors and post-doctoral researchers.

Organizers then passed out candles and paper hearts to write their desires for a better future. Protesters were encouraged to leave the hearts all over campus.

Some protesters shared their vision for a better future some of which were, “A future without cops,” “A future without sexual violence” and “A world where students and workers run the campus.”

Hazel Gedikli, an English Ph.D. student, imagined a world that “stands against the darkness that haters are trying to create.”

Ph.D. student studying economics Raven Hetzler wished for a world where there is discussion of violence and oppression, but also clear steps taken to achieve solutions to them.

To Goyal, this was “a vigil not for death, but for life and dreams.”

Alicia Pastor, a visiting graduate student from Belgium, said that the response to fascism on college campuses in the U.S. seemed more intense than in Europe. In May 2018, her university back in Belgium, the Catholic University of Louvain, had invited the Hungarian Minister of Justice, László Trócsány, to speak on a panel.

In response, students spoke out; and that was enough for the professors to drop Trócsány from the panel.

However, Pastor came to the event because “we shouldn’t discuss with fascists; we should destroy it.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated the protest in Belgium happened in March 2018 instead of May 2018.

Rebecca Duke Wiesenberg can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @busybusybeckybe.

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    Proud2006GradDec 2, 2018 at 3:09 am

    No, this campus is funded by the public and the workers are paid for using public money. It is power to the people, which includes the republicans who I personally deal with. What I fear more is the fascism that both sides perpetuate; to stifle the speech of someone who disagree with is not hope, love, or solidarity but scare-mongering, fear, and oppression. I know that if a socialist came to campus and 600 tickets were reserved under false names the campus would burn to the ground. Hypocrisy is deadly, and rots our society from the inside out.

  • A

    amyNov 29, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Wow stunning rebuttal.. 600 people attended(giving for the sake of argument that your right) versus.. about 5 people.

    Second the campus is funded by tuition, federal grants and the Massachusetts taxpayer. What are you stuck in the 19th century with labeling people as ‘workers’, you forgot to say proleterians. It’s amazing how archaic and backwards marxists and socalists are.

    Third knowledge isn’t produced’ ,if it was it would be fabricated, made up, false. I think this is what liberals and many of our professors think knowledge is, whatever your opinion is backed by ‘studies’ that similarly were made by shoddy methods and the opinions of the people who conducted the student. The most recent example is a poll done by umass and it showed something like 40 percent of the country had a negative opinion of the country because of trump I emailed the people behind it and asked can you provide your methodology, how many independents did you poll, did you oversample democrats(reuters does this for example) and if you didn’t poll independents why not if they make the majority of the commonwealth? No answer… they were unwilling to defend their study against scrutiny.

    You can believe anything you want. I believe in unicorns and ice cream.

  • S

    Stephanie HigginsNov 29, 2018 at 1:20 am

    While 1,200 people preordered tickets to Spicer, Fine Arts employees have confirmed only 600 attended– many reserved spots were fake names supplied by people supposedly trying to keep Spicer fans from being able to attend.

    The campus is funded by the tuition of student/-workers and literally could not run without workers. Power to the students and workers who produce knowledge and make up the best of the UMass community. Hope, love and solidarity will always succeed. This we must believe!

  • P

    Proud2006GradNov 28, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    This is not your campus and not your space, it is the people’s campus and space, and the Republicans are entitled to the speak as they are entitled to protest. But a campus run by students and workers should be funded by students and workers.

  • A

    amyNov 28, 2018 at 2:23 am

    Look at the pictures collegian posted, you see about 5 people who attended this ‘protest’. Nobody cares and why would they? If not at the very least, any reasonably intelligent person knows exactly what they are going to say. He is x, fill in blank, racist, fascist, evil. white supremacist. Liberals always say the same things. They have no real points or arguments.

    Look at this protest versus the massive 1,200 people attending and supporting sean spicer and his ideas. Who won? Who was more persuasive?