The University of Michigan is standing by its speaker after medical students walked out of Dr. Kristin Collier’s keynote speech over her pro-life beliefs.
Viral video footage posted on Twitter shows that dozens of incoming University of Michigan Medical School students at their white coat ceremony walked out of Collier’s address, reportedly over her pro-life views.
In a statement to The Daily Wire, Michigan Medicine Director of Public Relations Mary Masson said that Collier, a pro-life assistant professor of medicine at UMMS, was chosen as the keynote speaker for the 2022 White Coat Ceremony “based on nominations and voting by members of the U-M Medical School Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is comprised of medical students, house officers and faculty.”
Incoming medical students walk out at University of Michigan’s white coat ceremony as the keynote speaker is openly anti-abortion pic.twitter.com/Is7KmVV811
— Scorpiio (@PEScorpiio) July 24, 2022
“The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues,” Masson said. “Its focus will always be on welcoming students into the profession of medicine.”
Masson emphasized that while Collier “never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks,” the University of Michigan “does not revoke an invitation to a speaker based on their personal beliefs.”
At the same time, the spokeswoman highlighted the university’s commitment to “providing high quality, safe reproductive care for patients, across all their reproductive health needs” — including abortion.
“While the state of Michigan has a 1931 abortion ban on the books, a recent Michigan Court of Claims order has temporarily blocked enforcement of that ban,” Masson said. “Michigan Medicine will continue to offer abortion care for patients.”
Collier declined through the spokeswoman to speak with The Daily Wire.
truly grateful for the support, emails, texts, prayers and letters I’ve received from all over the world regarding the event that will happen today. i feel so bolstered by it. and for my team that have carried me daily thru this —I love you
— Kristin Collier (@KristinCollie20) July 24, 2022
Students had also started a petition to cancel Collier’s speech over her pro-life views. But in a statement to the medical school faculty, students, and fellows, Dr. Marschall S. Runge, Dean of the Medical School of the University of Michigan, refused to concede to such demands.
“We have received both positive and negative feedback on the choice of our keynote speaker,” he reportedly said. “The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues, and Dr. Collier never planned to address a divisive topic as part of her remarks.”
“Our values speak about honoring the critical importance of diversity of personal thought and ideas, which is foundational to academic freedom and excellence,” he continued. “We would not revoke a speaker because they have different personal ideas than others.”