Petition calls on MSU to cancel George Will speech

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

A group of activists will deliver a petition signed by tens of thousands of people to Michigan State University to protest winter commencement speaker George Will, who they call a "rape apologist," leaders announced Monday.

Will, a conservative Washington Post columnist, is scheduled to deliver MSU's commencement on Saturday and will receive an honorary doctorate of humanities.

But activists are demanding that MSU cancel Will's speech, especially since the school is under federal investigation for its handling of three sexual misconduct complaints by students and because Will stated in a column that sexual assault victims make it up to achieve the "coveted status" of "victimhood."

The column can be read here.

A group of students will deliver the petition at noon on Wednesday to the MSU administration office. Molly Haigh, a spokeswoman for the women's advocacy group UltraViolet, said more than 40,000 people had signed the petition as of Monday evening.

"It is appalling that MSU, a school currently under Title IX investigation for failing to address rape on campus, would invite a man known for shaming survivors of rape on campus to speak at their graduation ceremony," said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. "One in 5 women are sexually assaulted before graduating from college across America; this is an issue that MSU and every university should take extremely seriously. We urge MSU to stop condoning rape and cancel George Will's speech."

University spokesman Jason Cody said Monday evening, "MSU is not considering canceling the speech."

A message seeking comment from Will was left Wednesday evening with the Washington Post.

Earlier this year, Will was uninvited from speaking at the all-female Scripps College in Claremont, California.