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Some MSU students don't want columnist George Will as commencement speaker

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Columnist George Will may get a cool reception when he delivers a commencement speech in East Lansing this weekend. 

A crowd of about three dozen Michigan State University students voiced their displeasure with the choice of Will to talk to graduates on Saturday.

Braving freezing temperatures, the group snaked its way through the East Lansing campus, chanting “un-invite Will,” and it’s on you MSU." 

They’re upset abouta newspaper columnGeorge Will wrote in June.

In it, Will claimed often-cited statistics showing an epidemic of rapes taking place on college campuses are an exaggeration. He also claimed activists are making “victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges” among female college students.

Syndicated columnist George Will

Organizer Emily Kollaritsch says MSU should have withdrawn its invitation.

“We’re not protesting against George Will today,” Kollaritsch says. “We’re protesting against MSU having invited him.”

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon issued a statementthis week defending the decision to have Will address students this week, while also not defending comments.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon

“The decision to invite Mr. Will was made early this spring, well before the publication of his June 6 column titled 'Colleges become the victims of progressivism,' which included statements about sexual assault that many found offensive. In fact, the early spring invitation was extended in the spirit of recognizing diverse viewpoints”

Another commencement speaker will be filmmaker Michael Moore.

Students are organizing a counter-commencement event on Saturday. They are also encouraging students who attend to stand and turn their backs to George Will when he delivers his commencement speech.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.