More than 600 Harvard University alumni have signed a letter calling to rescind fellowship invitations to Corey Lewandowski and Sean Spicer.
The letter claims giving fellowships to both former aides of President Trump provides “intellectual and moral legitimacy” to those who have “done much to degrade public discourse in this country, re-ignite white nationalism, and further reactionary policies that harm millions.”
Talia B. Lavin, a Harvard graduate and organizer of the petition, told the Harvard Crimson that inviting the former Trump aides reflect poorly on alumni.
“I think we should have a voice, and an extra responsibility to raise our voices and say, ‘You know, this is not an action that is fitting of the University that I got my degree from, and that I chose,’” she said. “Harvard’s motto is Veritas. You cannot hold that up and invite Sean Spicer, an incompetent liar.”
The call to drop both Spicer and Lewandowski comes following the controversy of inviting convicted leaker Chelsea Manning to become a visiting fellow at Harvard. The invitation was promptly rescinded last week after the complaints.
Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell announced his resignation as a senior fellow at Harvard on Thursday in protest of inviting Manning to become a fellow, Fox News reported. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, cancelled his appearance, saying Manning is an “American traitor”.
Manning said on Sunday that the decision to cancel the invitation proves the U.S. is a “police state”, Fox News reported.
“I'm not ashamed of being disinvited,” she added. “I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself.”
The organizers of the petition to withdraw invitations to Spicer and Lewandowski cite Manning’s case as why the two aides should not be fellows at Harvard.
“When they rescinded Chelsea Manning’s fellowship they admitted that the title of visiting fellow conveys a certain imprimatur of legitimacy. So they’re tacitly granting the same imprimatur of legitimacy to Spicer and Lewandowski, and I just don’t think that’s acceptable,” Lavin told the Crimson.
Paul B. VanKoughnett, another organizer of the petition, said they fear the university will normalize “Trumpist ideas”.
“There’s this idea ... that it’s just speech, just people talking, and they can disagree at the end of the day, and whatever. But it actually has a real-world effect, and that’s what we’re worried about,” he said, according to the student publication.
“We’re worried that the further normalization of these men and of Trumpist ideas are going to have awful material effects on people in the real world.”