Santa Clara University says it plans to move ahead with a talk by columnist George Will despite some resistance from students and alumni.
"Mr. Will is a prominent conservative commentator, and we believe our community would benefit from healthy intellectual debate," Deepa Arora, director of communications at Santa Clara, said in a statement emailed to Inside Higher Ed. "The leadership of Santa Clara University is sensitive to concerns raised by students and faculty about a column which expressed a controversial point of view about the way campus sexual assault is handled on some campuses. While some campus members disagree with Mr. Will on his stance in that article, we urge his critics to continue to respect the university’s role as a place for discourse and free speech -- even speech with which we may not agree."
A Change.org petition with more than 250 supporters (so far) says, "We are extremely disappointed that George Will will be speaking at Santa Clara University. … Will has repeatedly issued statements that both trivialize the problem of campus sexual assaults and invalidate the experiences and feelings of sexual assault survivors. Moreover, his recent claim that national and local efforts to combat campus rape have made 'victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges' is not merely misguided, but deeply misogynistic and ignorant."
Last year, Scripps College rescinded an invitation for Will to speak, citing a column in which Will referred to a "supposed campus epidemic of rape."
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