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Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spent three low-profile days on campus last week as part of his visiting fellowship at the Institute of Politics.
Spicer attended several off-the-record meals with students, including a lunch on a political communications and a “Director’s dinner,” according to Jason Ge ’18 and Emily M. Hall ’18, co-chairs of the IOP Fellows and Study Groups Program. He also visited several classes, including a freshman seminar, and met with faculty and students from the College, Kennedy School, Business School, and Law School.
Spicer had an “action-packed” visit to Harvard, said Tyler Jenkins ’19, who serves as a liaison in the IOP Fellows program.
“We tried to give him a variety of events to be involved in and talk to as many students as possible, both those who agree with him and those who disagree with him,” Jenkins said.
Spicer’s six months as President Donald Trump’s press secretary were marked by controversy, his often-contentious exchanges with reporters provoking criticism and inspiring spoofs on “Saturday Night Live.” Following the announcement of Spicer’s fellowship in September, more than 600 Harvard alumni signed an open letter calling on the IOP to rescind its fellowships for Spicer and Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign advisor.
Spicer’s visit on campus likewise met opposition from some students and scorn from Twitter pundits.
“I feel like Sean Spicer stood in front of the American people and lied and spread propaganda everyday, and the fact that we're just gonna all sit around the table with him and chat is absurd to me,” said Dominique Erney ’19.
The IOP Twitter account posted a photo of Spicer at breakfast on Wednesday. It received almost 2,000 replies, most of them with snarky or critical responses.
“Largest crowd ever in Boston. Ever,” one user wrote, referencing Spicer’s infamous claim that Trump’s inauguration received a record-large crowd.
In an emailed statement, Ge and Hall said they felt general student reception to Spicer’s visit to be “very good.”
“We’re happy that students engaged in respectful dialogue and were able to ask questions and learn from him,” they wrote.
Jenkins moderated a lunch discussion Thursday with Spicer and Donna Brazile, the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. He said the theme of the lunch discussion was about “how we can get bipartisan, get things done, and still stand by our principles.”
Jeannette P. Leopold, co-president of the Harvard Law School Republicans, attended a breakfast discussion with Spicer.
“I thought it was really great that we had the opportunity to meet someone who’s been so influential,” she said.
—Staff writer Luke W. Xu can be reached at email@example.com.
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