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Protests Don't Derail Speakers At MSU Commencement

EAST LANSING (AP) - Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore and political columnist George Will plan to address students at Michigan State University's commencement ceremonies.

Michigan State says the speeches are scheduled for Saturday at the ceremony for undergraduates and receive honorary doctorate degrees.

Activists this week delivered petitions signed by tens of thousands of people to university officials opposing Will's speech over his commentary on sexual assault reporting at colleges. In a June column, Will questioned statistics cited by President Barack Obama's administration and suggested that federal authorities were making "victimhood a coveted status."

University President Lou Anna Simon said in an online statement that the decision to invite Will was made before the column. She says his appearance doesn't mean she or the school agrees with his statements but universities should serve "the public good by creating space for discourse and exchange of ideas."

Will has said he was criticizing loss of due process for those accused of the serious crime. Critics say the columnist has a "track record of downplaying the seriousness of rape" and want the university to cancel his speech.

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan spoke Friday. The institution had faced outrage over a Rolling Stone article about a gang rape at a fraternity house that wasn't prosecuted, though the magazine later said it couldn't stand by its reporting because of discrepancies.

Sullivan has said the university's long-held concerns about sexual assault and alcohol use were heightened by the article.

MORE: MSU Students March, Deliver Petitions Opposing George Will As Commencement Speaker

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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