Wednesday, August 12, 2020

ASMSU becomes latest group to condemn George Will's appearance

December 9, 2014

In a special meeting called Tuesday night, the ASMSU General Assembly passed a resolution to "condemn the choice of George Will as a commencement speaker at MSU's Fall graduation," for his June 6 column in the Washington Post column alleging that university policies have made "victimhood a privileged status". 

The resolution came after many constituents reached out to ASMSU representatives and urged them to action.

The Alliance of Queer and Ally Students representative Colin Wiebrecht introduced the bill, which was seconded by James Madison College representative Wyatt Ludman, and called for the MSU administration "to immediately rescind their invitation and find another speaker to address graduating seniors."

In an amendment added during the General Assembly's discussion, ASMSU representatives also agreed to condemn awarding Will with an honorary degree. 

Echoing the Council of Graduate Students' Sunday resolution, the resolution lastly "calls on MSU to also allocate funds in at least the same amount as Mr. Will’s speaking engagement fee towards the hiring of more counselors for the Counseling Center to address the need for students seeking help with sexual assault and reaffirms commitment to sexual assault prevention and response."

Twenty-three members of the GA voted yes on the bill, four abstained and one representative, Evan Schrage of the College of Social Sciences, voted no. 

Schrage and Vice President for Governmental Affairs KC Perlberg were the two most vocal in their opposition to the resolution, although Perlberg's position as vice president prevented him from voting on the resolution.

"It's perfectly understandable to disagree with the argument Mr. Will made in his column last June," Perlberg said. "But it's another thing entirely to suggest he was expressing an outright contempt or aggression towards victims of sexual assault." 

Schrage also argued that Will won't be speaking about sexual assault on Saturday, and that many would agree with his central point Will made, which was criticizing colleges for how they handle sexual assault. He also pointed out that one of the other speakers, filmmaker Michael Moore, is not free from controversy either.

"People should be allowed to have opinions and not be socially exiled for expressing them," Schrage said. 

Ludman did not feel that those arguments held weight, especially amid the context that MSU is currently under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assault cases. 

"It seems despicable to me that we're going to be honoring someone who had this comment," Ludman said.

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