NEWS BRIEF – Nearly 100 students, survivors, and UltraViolet members marched on the MSU administration building today, delivering over 70,000 petitions calling for the University to cancel the planned honorary degree and speech by George Will at Saturday’s graduation ceremony. National anti-sexism group UltraViolet joined with students to plan the event, and Care2 members joined forces to add their signatures and raise awareness for the cause.
“From my freshman year, when MSU assigned my abusive boyfriend a 500 word essay as punishment, to my senior year where the administration has brought rape apologists to town for graduation, MSU has consistently failed me personally and our student body as a whole on the issue of rape,” said Emily Kollaritsch. “MSU needs to once and for all take a stand against rape–and the first step is cancelling George Will’s speech this Saturday.”
See photos of today’s ongoing march, petition delivery, sit-in and speak-out on rape in the MSU administration’s offices here: http://bit.ly/msurapeprotest
“MSU has created the how-to manual for schools looking to fail their students on the issue of rape,” said Shaunna Thomas, Co-founder of national women’s group UltraViolet. “We urge MSU to take immediate action to fix their rape problem, starting with cancelling George Will’s honorary degree and speech. In the mean time, we have no choice but to educate prospective students before they take the dangerous leap of applying to or accepting an offer at MSU.”
According to UltaViolet, Will has a long track record of downplaying the seriousness of rape. In a released news statement, the marchers said, “Will’s crusade started in the early 1990s when he attacked what he called “Rape Crisis Feminists” for teaching the importance of verbal consent. Will has used his syndicated column with the Washington Post to criticize efforts to prevent sexual harassment and assault – most recently writing that colleges are making “victimhood a coveted status” by taking public steps to curb sexual assaults on campus. Will even defended the idea that non-consensual sex is not rape.”
“Care2 members care deeply about protecting women’s rights and standing with the survivors of sexual assault,” said Care2 petition author, Nathan Empsall. “There is no place in our culture for rape or for hurtful remarks like George Will’s that dismiss its violence, which is why our members are calling on Michigan State University and other major institutions to use their influence and set the right example.”