Dozens of University of Michigan medical students walked out of their white coat ceremony on Sunday when a keynote speaker began speaking. A Twitter video of the strike has gone viral. At press time, the video had garnered more than 9.5 million views.
The strike comes days after more than 340 medical students at the school signed a petition against the selection of Michigan assistant professor Kristin Collier, MD, for the ceremony because of her anti-abortion views, according to The Michigan Daily.
Commenting on the incident, a medical school spokeswoman said: Medscape Medical News that Collier was chosen to speak “on the basis of nominations and votes by members of the UM Medical School Gold Humanism Honor Society, which is made up of medical students, house officers and teachers.”
The press statement continued: “The White Coat Ceremony is not a platform for discussion of controversial issues. The focus will always be on welcoming students into the medical profession. Dr. Collier never intended to cover a divisive topic as part of her comments. , the University of Michigan will not withdraw a speaker invitation based on their personal beliefs.”
The university further stated that it remains committed to providing reproductive care for patients, including abortion care, which remains legal in Michigan following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning abortion rights, according to the statement by Mary Masson, director of Michigan Medicine public relations.
The state has an abortion ban, but a recent court order temporarily blocked its enforcement, the statement said.
In her speech, Collier acknowledged the divisiveness of the issue. “I want to acknowledge the deep wounds our community has suffered over the past few weeks. We have a lot of work to do for healing to take place. And I hope today, for this time, we can focus on what matters most, coming together with a goal to support our newly hired students and their families.”
After applause from the remaining audience, she continued to advise the incoming students on how to thrive in their chosen profession.
A medical school graduate and director of the Health, Spirituality and Religion program, Collier has 15.2K Twitter followers. She has been known to spread anti-abortion sentiments, including those mentioned in the students’ petition.
“While supporting the rights of free speech and religion, an anti-choice speaker representing the University of Michigan undermines the university’s stance on abortion and supports the non-universal, theologically rooted platform to limit access to abortion. , an essential part of medical care,” the petition reads in part.
The petition argues that the disagreement is not about personal opinions. “We demand that UM stand in solidarity with us and select a speaker whose values align with institutional policy, students and the wider medical community. This speaker should inspire the next generation of healthcare providers to be courageous advocates for patient autonomy and our communities.”
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