U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) expressed disappointment in Michigan State University's decision to honor George Will during their December commencement ceremony, citing Will's offensive comments about campus sexual assault which have received widespread backlash and prompted multiple student government condemnations on the campus.
On December 10, Stabenow issued a statement criticizing the decision to let Will speak and to award him with an honorary doctorate. From Stabenow's statement:
As a Michigan State alumna, I am deeply disappointed that George Will is being honored this weekend. His statements on sexual assault are inaccurate, offensive, and don't represent the values of our state or MSU. I urge the University to continue their efforts to combat campus sexual assault, including the recent convening of the University Task Force on Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence.
MSU invited Will to speak during the December 13 graduation ceremony despite ongoing controversy surrounding his past comments on campus sexual assault.
Will published a syndicated column in June disputing the evidence that 1 in 5 women on U.S. college campuses experience sexual assault, and arguing that efforts to combat sexual assault have made “victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges.”
Will's comments received widespread criticism at the time from four other U.S. senators, media, and women's equality groups, and have since incited campus protests. Scripps College cancelled his scheduled speaking engagement in October.
Both the MSU Council of Graduate Students and the school's undergraduate student government have passed resolutions denouncing Will's upcoming commencement address, but the university's president Lou Anna K. Simon defended the decision to honor Will on December 9.