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George Will visit to Michigan State University protest signs and other materials

Identifier: MSS 439

Scope and Contents

This collection includes several large protest signs from the December 2014 demonstrations against MSU’s Fall commencement speaker, George F. Will, coverage of the controversy on the State News, as well as material from an alternative commencement ceremony, the Michigan State University "Surviving and Thriving Celebration."


  • Creation: 2014

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Biographical / Historical

On June 6, 2014, conservative columnist George F. Will wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on the reported prevalence of sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses. In the column, Will argued that university rape statistics may be inflated, suggesting that when colleges and universities “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privilege,” young women are inclined to falsify or exaggerate reports of sexual assault against them.Will’s comments sparked controversy across the nation, especially from victims of sexual assault and victim advocacy groups. When it was announced in early December 2014 that Will would be one of two speakers at MSU’s Fall 2014 commencement ceremony (along with filmmaker Michael Moore), many students were outraged. Some petitioned MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to uninvite Will, gathering over 70,000 signatures from students, faculty, and concerned community members. Dozens of students marched through campus on Wednesday, Dec. 10, protesting Will’s appointment and presenting the President’s office with the signed petitions. However, President Simon did not relent.In response to the University’s refusal to rescind Will’s speaking invitation, over 100 protesters gathered outside Breslin Center on the day of commencement, Dec. 13, 2014. They carried signs and banners expressing their solidarity with victims of sexual assault, as well as their outrage at the University’s decision to retain Will as commencement speaker. In addition, some students and faculty boycotted the official MSU commencement and held an alternative ceremony that same day, the Michigan State University Surviving and Thriving Celebration.


3.5 Linear Feet (1 large flat box and 1 oversized poster box.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material donated anonymously by protesters. Items collected from protesters and given to Special Collections by Megan Hughey.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Andrew Lundeen in 2015, rehoused in 2017, and finding aid revised by Lydia Tang in 2018.

Finding aid for George Will visit to Michigan State University protest signs and other materials
4 Published And Cataloged
Andrew Lundeen
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections Repository

MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Drive
East Lansing MI 48823 USA