University of Michigan students stage walk-out over speaker’s antiabortion views – The Washington Post

What's Happening

“We saw an opportunity to utilize our positions as future physicians to advocate for and stand in solidarity with individuals whose rights to bodily autonomy and medical care are endangered,” the organizers said in a statement to The Washington Post.

In her Sunday address, Collier urged students to “get to know your patients as human beings, not just as their scans, labs, chemistry and data.” Although she didn’t explicitly mention abortion, she appeared to address the controversy by saying, “I want to acknowledge the deep wounds our community has suffered over the past several weeks.”

“We have a great deal of work to do for healing to occur,” she continued. “And I hope that for today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most — coming together to support our newly accepted students and their families with the goal of welcoming them into one of the greatest vocations that exists on this earth.”

“She can hold whatever opinion … but I think the professional sphere is where one needs to be objective, especially as health-care providers,” added the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns over backlash to the walkout.

Before the ceremony, the students created a poll to gauge whether to take action. When about 91 percent of respondents said they were either against or strongly against having Collier speak, according to the organizers, they created a petition to have her removed as the keynote speaker. They also proposed having a conversation with Collier at a later date — just not during a ceremony considered a rite of passage in their field of study.

“You could tell there was this overwhelming sense of pride in the air. They didn’t know each other before, but there was this sort of big breath of relief when everyone got outside and they were able to stand together in solidarity,” said Brendan Scorpio, a Detroit-based social organizer who attended the ceremony and posted the clip of the walkout. “It was a very meaningful, powerful moment.”

But Cajka sees a switch in the clashes occurring on campuses today. Politics are bleeding into areas that were historically apolitical, such as medicine, technology and science, he said. The catalyst of these protests often boils down to speakers seemingly embodying “the politics people are pushing against at times when said politics are at an issue.”

“Without the Dobbs decision, does this speech even matter? No,” he said of Collier’s keynote. “Because this person who’s pro-life, well, that’s normally just an opinion. But now it seems like it has or represents some political power.”