- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Activists say they’ve delivered petitions signed by tens of thousands of people to Michigan State University opposing an upcoming commencement speech by columnist George Will over his commentary on sexual assault reporting at colleges.

Organizers say in a release that they marched on the East Lansing university’s administration building Wednesday afternoon and submitted the petitions.

Protesters say they also plan a sit-in over Will’s inclusion in Saturday’s commencement ceremonies, in which he’s also expected to receive an honorary doctorate of humanities.

An October speech by Will at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, also drew protests.

The protests against the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist have grown out of a June column he wrote about federal pressure on colleges in reporting of sexual assaults.

Will questioned statistics cited by President Barack Obama’s administration and suggested that federal authorities were making “victimhood a coveted status.”

Will has said he was criticizing loss of due process for those accused of the serious crime.

Organizers say the columnist has a “track record of downplaying the seriousness of rape” and want the university to cancel his speech.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon said in an online statement Tuesday 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.”

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