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Medical Students Walk Out on Antiabortion Speaker

July 25, 2022

University of Michigan medical students walked out on a speech Sunday by an antiabortion speaker during their “white coat day” to mark the start of medical school.

Images on Twitter show the walkout.

In the weeks before the speech, students petitioned to have the speaker changed. The speaker was Kristin Collier, an assistant professor at the medical school. She has spoken out many times against abortion.

“While we support the rights of freedom of speech and religion, an anti-choice speaker as a representative of the University of Michigan undermines the University’s position on abortion and supports the non-universal, theology-rooted platform to restrict abortion access, an essential part of medical care,” said the petition. “This is not simply a disagreement on personal opinion; through our demand we are standing up in solidarity against groups who are trying to take away human rights and restrict medical care.”

MLive reported that a medical school spokeswoman said (before the walkout), “As with all Michigan Medicine White Coat ceremonies, the focus of the speaker is to welcome students into the medical profession, recognizing their achievements and the new journey they will undertake. The ceremony is not a forum to express personal political or religious beliefs.”

In her speech, Collier did not discuss abortion.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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