On UW’s Choice of Jon Huntsman as Commencement Speaker

jon huntsman

The University of Washington, which is a publicly funded university, has invited one of the 2012 failed Republican presidential candidates to be graduation speaker for the 2013 commencement. Jon Huntsman is the former governor of Utah, the same state that the current University of Washington President Michael Young is from: Young used to work at Brigham State University in Salt Lake City. The University of Washington is situated in Seattle, one of the most liberal cities in the country, and according to the University’s official website, 52% of enrolled students are female.

So it’s funny that the university would invite someone with such anti-feminist views to be the Commencement Speaker. (And if, as many websites state, he is one of the potential 2016 presidential candidates, would the use of state funds to pay his speaker fees be an ethical violation of federal election laws? Seriously, I would like to know.)

Typically, I would care less about commencement speakers, but this is my year to graduate. I admit to being selfish in that I would like to have a speaker that espoused my views. Instead:

“Huntsman supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade : ‘I sign[ed] the bill that would trigger the ban on abortion in Utah if Roe v. Wade were overturned[.]’ June 3, 2011, The Faith And Freedom Coalition Conference, Washington D.C.”

As a former employee and current student of the University of Washington who lost her first pregnancy as a direct result of the work environment (I was tear gassed while chaperoning a student field trip and miscarried), I have yet to be reimbursed for my medical costs of the D&C — which is physically the exact same procedure as an abortion. I wouldn’t have needed a D&C if it weren’t for my working conditions at the University of Washington (my doctor had already seen the heartbeat on the monitor, and my doctor for my second pregnancy wrote a letter to the effect that there is only a 5% chance of miscarrying past that point), but instead of covering my medical costs, I was left to pay for everything out of pocket for the medical care received at the job site (Athens, Greece), and what’s worse, after being advised to wait for Washington State Labor and Industries to pay for my follow-up medical treatment received at the University of Washington upon my return, I have been subsequently sent to collections for failure to pay.

I have two questions. First, why would the University of Washington put a student and employee in this situation where she has to have a D&C in the first place and send her to collections for the medical costs? And in the second place, while she was dealing with the loss of her child and costs far beyond her salary, how is that the UW administration can still afford to pay speakers who make their living talking about the immorality of abortion?

You know what’s immoral? Paying speakers to come and judge 52% of your student body.

This is my request to Jon Huntsman. Please do not attend. Do not ruin my graduation. I worked hard and am still working to overcome one of the worst tragedies of my life to see this day. I do not want to see you there. You and other Republican men like you are the reasons why insurance companies can deny coverage for medically necessary D&Cs to women who thought they were adequately insured. You are the reason why there is the term “elective abortion.” No one wants to get an abortion, but if we do get a D&C, then yes, it is necessary. Whether for physical, mental, or family health, women have very real reasons for getting the procedure done. And I don’t want my school spending my tuition money or any other school spending public taxpayer money to help support a man who, without even basic medical training, works to make this procedure harder to access.

Suzanne Skaar


2 thoughts on “On UW’s Choice of Jon Huntsman as Commencement Speaker

  1. Pingback: Women and UW’s 2013 Commencement | Barefoot and Political

  2. Pingback: For those who don’t like to read without pictures | Barefoot and Political

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