University of Michigan will cancel its commencement ceremony on March 1, with faculty members voicing concerns that it would be inappropriate for the university to use a commencement speaker that supports a pro-abortion position.
“As faculty, we are concerned that M.
Ât.’s commencement speaker, Dr. Andrea Grimes, will use the event to attack abortion rights and abortion providers,” said Emily Coney Barrett, M.A. professor of sociology, who is also chair of the sociology department.
“We are also concerned that Dr. Grimes’ remarks will be used as a platform to attack and vilify Planned Parenthood.”
Grimes is a professor of history at the university, and the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, a pro-“choice” advocacy organization.
“Grimes is a well-respected professor, but it is troubling that she will use this occasion to attack Planned Parenthood,” Barrett said.
“It is an inappropriate use of this opportunity to promote abortion.”
The cancellation of the commencement ceremony follows a similar decision by M.IU last week, when it decided to cancel the commencement of two women’s studies professors.
“There is no room in our university for Dr. Elizabeth Warren, whose political views are profoundly pro-choice, and who supports the right of students and faculty to speak out against the abortion pill,” said Elizabeth Warren spokeswoman Ashley Johnson.
“M.I.–U of M has a long history of supporting women and girls through its women’s education programs and is proud to have had such prominent women professors at the college.
M.U. regrets the impact these decisions have on the faculty.”
The two women students who received the honorary degrees are the first to be suspended.
“At M.i.t., we are committed to the equal treatment of women, and we welcome students, faculty, staff, and students of all backgrounds who are passionate about advancing the best of our campus,” the university said in a statement.
“While we understand the gravity of the decision, we believe that the faculty’s decision to withdraw from commencement was in the best interest of our students, our community, and our university.”
The university’s statement also stated that Grimes was not aware of the university’s policy regarding honorary degrees, and that MIU “has a long, longstanding history of respecting and championing women’s perspectives on their academic work.”
The announcement of the two suspensions comes on the heels of the University of Wisconsin System’s decision last week to cancel its graduation ceremony for a woman who was fired from her position as the executive director of the school’s student-run student union.
The decision followed a video that appeared to show former UW–Madison President Marjorie Dannenfelser making insensitive remarks about the lives of undocumented immigrants.
In the video, Dannefelser appeared to suggest that undocumented immigrants were “coming to our country to get the best jobs, the best paychecks, and to have better lives,” and then urged her supporters to “do the right thing.”
The video was widely viewed as racist, and was condemned by students and members of the community who criticized the university.
The school has since reinstated Dannaffeser, who was previously named president of UW–Milwaukee, a position she had held since 2014.
“The UW System of higher education, through its faculty and staff, has a responsibility to treat all members of our community with dignity and respect, and I am deeply troubled that in a moment of public shame, the University has taken the step to cancel a graduation ceremony in which students have already gathered,” UW–Waukesha Chancellor Michael Bridges said in the statement.
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