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Michigan Medical Students Walk Out Of Initiation Ceremony To Protest 'Pro-Life' Keynote Speaker

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Michigan Medical Students Walk Out Of Initiation Ceremony To Protest 'Pro-Life' Keynote Speaker

Dozens of University of Michigan students walked out of their initiation ceremony on Sunday to protest the administration’s keynote speaker for the event, Dr. Kristin Collier, due to her pro-life views. 

A video posted to Twitter displaying the students walking out while Dr. Collier was delivering her speech has been viewed over 10 million times. 

While the University of Michigan has stated that they would not drop a keynote speaker over ‘personal beliefs,’ many medical students believed it was hypocritical to have an individual who does not believe women should have access to safe abortions welcoming them into the medical field.  

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The University Of Michigan class of medical students vocalized their opinions by walking out of the event 

A White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage for medical students.

During the ceremony, students are given white lab coats, and the Hippocratic Oath is recited to commemorate their entrance into the medical field.

The University of Michigan’s white coat ceremony took place on Sunday, where many incoming medical students and their families gathered to celebrate their accomplishments.

However, the event was anything but a celebration when Dr. Kristin Collier took the stage as the keynote speaker. As she delivered her opening remarks, dozens of students and those there supporting them left the auditorium. The reason why lies within Collier's public tweets on her Twitter account and interview statements. 

Dr. Collier is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Program on Health Spirituality and Religion at the University of Michigan. She has publicly stated her anti-abortion views on her Twitter account. 

“Holding on to a view of feminism where one fights for the rights of all women and girls, especially those who are most vulnerable. I can’t not lament the violence directed at my prenatal sisters in the act of abortion, done in the name of autonomy,” she tweeted in May. 

In addition, Collier also participated in an interview with The Pillar, where she detailed her transformation into a ‘pro-life woman.’ 

A petition circulated calling for the replacement of Collier

Before the ceremony, students started a petition to have Collier replaced. The petition collected signatures from over 248 current students, 100 incoming students, and 72 others, including the University of Michigan alumni.

The petition’s organizers argued that Collier’s statements were "antithetical to the tenets of reproductive justice as restrictions on abortion affect women of color, other marginalized women, and trans people disproportionately." However, Collier was not barred from speaking at the event.  

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A spokesperson for the University of Michigan told NewsWeek, “Kristin Collier, M.D., 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.” 

However, faculty at the university has publicly expressed that Michigan would continue to provide safe abortions for patients. 

University of Michigan’s current President, Mary Sue Coleman, stated, “I strongly support access to abortion services, and I will do everything in my power as president to ensure we continue to provide this critically important care.” 

Collier attempted to get through to students in her speech by focusing on coming together for the sake of medicine, despite their differences.

“I want to acknowledge the deep wounds our community has suffered over the past several weeks,” Collier said during her speech, seemingly indirectly referencing the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade a few weeks back. “We have a great deal of work to do for healing to occur,” she continued.

“And I hope that for today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most: coming together to support our newly accepted students and their families with the goal of welcoming them into one of the greatest vocations that exist on this earth,” she went on to say. 

Although students who organized the petition acknowledged that they ‘support the rights of freedom of speech and religion,’ having Collier as a keynote speaker ‘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.” 

Many users praised the students' decision in a TikTok video posted by @nowthis demonstrating the walkout. 

“First and always the provider’s responsibility is to their patient. These professionals remembered that” one comment reads. 

Others criticized the students. “If you’re a med student and don’t realize that there’s 2 lives in front of you when you look at a pregnant woman, you shouldn’t practice medicine,” another comment reads.  

   

   

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers news, pop culture, self, love, and relationships. 

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