Students Protest Brad Smith During Presidential Acceptance Speech


Isabella Robinson

The protest outside of the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse during Smith’s introduction speech was organized by the Sustainability Club.

A small group of protestors held a demonstration against the selection of Brad D. Smith as Marshall’s 38th president. 

The protest, organized by the Marshall Sustainability Club, was held at the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse during Smith’s introduction speech only hours after the board of governor’s decision earlier in the morning. 

The group of protestors demonstrated with signs, forming a line inside the playhouse directly outside the auditorium in which Smith was speaking. Once Smith’s speech was concluded, the protestors were asked by police to leave the building; however, the demonstration was continued outside. 

Once Smith’s speech was concluded, the protestors were asked by police to leave the building; however, the demonstration continued outside.

Julia Pritt, a member of the Sustainability Club at the protest, believes that Smith’s lack of experience working in an educational environment makes him unsuitable for the position.

“Brad Smith is the only finalist who didn’t have any educational experience,” Pritt said. “I think the number one person leading an educational institution should have educational experience.” 

Pritt also had issues that she finds to be glaring conflicts of interest regarding Smith’s relationship with certain members of the board of governors and his past multi-million-dollar donations to the University. 

“I take issues with his ties with one of the people on the board making the decision,” Pritt said. “It’s just so evident that without money it would not have been a question about whether or not he would have been involved with this at all.” 

Smith briefly spoke with The Parthenon about his feelings towards the recent controversies around his status as a presidential candidate. 

“I start by celebrating the fact that I had students and others in the constituency group that had questions about either my qualifications or my legitimacy,” Smith said. “It is important to have that civil discourse and that diverse perspective because it always leads to better outcomes and better decisions, it made me a better candidate, I think it will help me be a better president.” 

Jessica Spoor, the Marshall University senior and Student Government Association senator who drafted a resolution asking the board of governors to reconsider Smith’s candidacy, spoke with Smith briefly after his speech. 

“He immediately recognized me,” Spoor said. “I said ‘I would love to hold some kind of event like an open forum with you (Smith) so we can get the students to get to know you and also address these concerns because I still have these concerns.’” 

Dr. Montserrat Miller, Executive Director of the John Deaver Drink Academy, was happy to see the student protestors standing up for what they believe in. 

“I don’t think there is anything but a positive assessment to be made when students voice their concerns, this is a university, it is the training grounds for democracy,” Miller said. “I am happy to see students voicing their concerns.” 

Spoor, having a recent history of arguing against Smith’s status as a finalist for the president’s seat, had positive feelings towards the group of protestors. 

“It kind of makes me feel validated, to be honest,” Spoor said. “I am glad they are out here and showing support for what they believe in.” 

Smith will be working with and learning from President Gilbert over the coming months to prepare for his time as Marshall’s 38th President.