Activists called Will “a sexual assault denier”
Activists protested Princeton University’s 2019 Baccalaureate ceremony on Sunday as conservative columnist George Will delivered an address to the graduating class.
A video posted to Twitter shows a number of attendees stand up during the address and turn their backs to Will in a show of protest.
Students at Baccalaureate are protesting speaker George Will, though the cameras won’t show it to families watching the simulcast outside pic.twitter.com/HTzMuX8MBP
— Paige Amormino (@PaigeAmormino) June 2, 2019
Princeton IX Now, a Title IX reform organization at the university, said on its Twitter account that the protest was planned because Will is “a sexual assault denier, a climate change disavower, and a racism dismisser.”
@Princeton has chosen George Will as this year’s baccalaureate speaker, the person chosen to send seniors off into the world.
George Will is a sexual assault denier, a climate change disavower, and a racism dismisser.
— PRINCETON IX NOW (@princetonIXnow) June 2, 2019
“Today, seniors are turning our backs on George Will during his speech in a silent protest, Will has used his platform for harm, and it is a slap in the face to all survivors of sexual assault to invite him as a speaker,” the organization’s account said.
“We are excited for the baccalaureate ceremony, and have no intention of disrupting the ceremony itself. But for the duration of Will’s speech, we will turn away. Will is free to hold these harmful beliefs – but they have no place at a celebration of the class of 2019,” the group added.
Will’s address focused primarily on the destruction of political discourse. In it, the columnist lamented that America is “awash in expressions of contempt and condescension,” which Will blamed on the existence of social media.
“What are called ‘social media’ — and which might more accurately be called anti-social media — seem to encourage snarky expressions of disdain,” Will said.
The columnist encouraged students to praise people instead of being angry, calling it “an antidote to something that today’s America has too much of: anger.”
“Students who are taught how to praise are necessarily taught the standards by which we decide which people and things are praiseworthy, and they learn the pleasure of praising, which is the pleasure of savoring the acknowledgement of excellence. This is a pleasure more durable, more lasting than the curdled pleasure of anger,” he said.
IMAGE: Penn State/Flickr