Jeff Sessions to speak on Trump, Republican Party at Amherst College 

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions pauses during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia in Washington on Oct. 15, 2018.  AP PHOTO/CAROLYN KASTER

Staff Writer
Published: 4/22/2019 4:16:54 PM

AMHERST — Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. attorney general and senator from Alabama, will speak on Wednesday at Amherst College.

The event is being sponsored by the Amherst College Republicans and the conservative youth organization Young Americas Foundation. The talk is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Johnson Chapel and is open only to Amherst College students, staff and faculty.

“His official talk is about Donald Trump’s 2016 election — what got him to win and the future of the Republican Party,” said Rob Barasch, the president of the Amherst College Republicans.

Barasch said his club invited Sessions, 72, to bring a “diverse perspective” to campus, adding that the event is already sold out.

The appearance of Sessions — whose record on race, civil rights, immigration and criminal justice has drawn widespread criticism from the left — is already courting some controversy. In an email to campus last Thursday, college President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin said that the college “has responsibility for security, as it always must, and has decided that the event will be open only to Amherst College faculty, staff, and students.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that freedom of speech is being used today by some in a concerted and cynical way to attack higher education institutions as intolerant,” Martin wrote. “I believe we owe it to ourselves, despite cynical efforts to put us in a defensive posture, to protect the right to expression, even or especially when it hurts to do so, as long as there is no imminent threat of violence or incitement to it.”

Martin added that students have the right to attend, ignore or protest the event, but that protests “must be peaceful and cannot interfere with a speaker’s right to speak and be heard.” 

Some groups are already organizing protests of the speech.

“Come together on Wednesday evening to protest Jeff Sessions’ visit, and to connect with local activists,” reads a Facebook post from the Direct Action Coordinating Committee, a student group on campus.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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