Video shows dozens of University of Michigan medical students exiting their white coat ceremony, an important rite of passage marking students’ transition into future medical professionals, as pro-life professor, Dr. Kristin Collier, approached the podium to deliver her keynote address.
“Hello, I am very honored to have been selected as the speaker for this year’s white coat ceremony,” said Dr. Collier, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS), in the video while the doctor the students are out.
A Twitter user shared the images in a tweet, which has since garnered over 66,000 retweets and 558,000 likes so far.
Incoming medical students walk out at University of Michigan white coat ceremony as keynote speaker is openly anti-abortion pic.twitter.com/Is7KmVV811
— Scorpio (@PEScorpiio) July 24, 2022
While Dr. Collier’s speech was not intended to focus on abortion, the students nevertheless circulated a petition asking that she be removed as keynote speaker due to the professor’s personal belief that women should not kill their unborn children.
“Dr. Kristin Collier has shared several anti-choice posts on her public social media channels and made similar comments in interviews,” lamented the petition, signed by current and incoming medical students at the College of Medicine. University of Michigan.
“These comments are contrary to the principles of reproductive justice because abortion restrictions affect women of color, other marginalized women and trans people disproportionately,” the students added.
The petition went on to “demanding that UM stand in solidarity with us and select a speaker whose values align with institutional policies, students, and the broader medical community.”
“We demand that the University of Michigan listen to our voices! We demand that the University of Michigan support reproductive justice!! We demand an alternate speaker for this year’s white coat ceremony!!! exclaim the students in their petition.
A student said she was “afraid” to attend a school in a state where she might not be able to kill her unborn child in a post-Roe America.
“I’m already scared that I chose to go to school in a state where I could very well lose my right to a safe abortion, and UMMS’s decision to have Dr. Collier as our keynote speaker makes that even scarier,” the student said. “It makes me seriously doubt that the school will continue to stand up for reproductive rights.”
The petition to remove Dr. Collier, however, was ultimately denied by the Dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Marschall Runge.
“The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussing controversial issues, and Dr. Collier never intended to address a controversial topic as part of his remarks,” Dr. Runge said. in a press release.
“Our values speak to honoring the critical importance of diversity of personal thought and ideas, which is fundamental to academic freedom and excellence,” Dr. Runge added. “We would not revoke a speaker because he has different personal ideas from others.”
The university said 168 new medical students attended this year’s White Coat Ceremony, an initiation ceremony in which they took the White Coat Pledge and the Hippocratic Oath.
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