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Bristol Palin won't give a speech at Washington University Sex Week

January 28, 2011 | 12:42 pm

Bristol Palin won't speak at Washington University sex week Bristol Palin earns a living speaking about the consequences of teen pregnancy -- but some students at Washington University in St. Louis didn't want to be the ones signing her paycheck.

Palin had been invited by the school's Student Health Advisory Committee to be the keynote speaker on a panel during Washington University's upcoming Sexual Responsibility Week, aka Sex Week, until "growing controversy among undergraduates over the decision to pay for her talk with student-generated funds" prompted Palin and SHAC to mutually cancel her appearance, the school said in a statement Friday.

She was to have made a 25-minute speech on her life story to be followed by an hourlong panel discussion and a half-hour question-and-answer session, the campus newspaper said Tuesday, with a reception afterward at which students could "interact with Palin one-on-one."

Planned Parenthood advocate Kate Walsh of "Private Practice" retweeted a message urging students to boycott Palin's speech, and at least two Facebook pages were established for the same purpose.

"The Student Health Advisory Committee and Palin decided that the message that they intended on sharing would be overshadowed by controversy," the university said Friday.

"[Student Union] Treasury recently approved $20k to sponsor a four-person panel headlined by Palin, who individually commands anywhere from $15 to $30k on the speaker circuit," the Washington University College Democrats said on a "No thanks, Bristol" Facebook page it set up to organize a protest against Palin's appearance.

"The Democrats and our friends, liberals, Republicans, and abstinent individuals alike, believe this is an irresponsible use of Washington University resources on a fifteen-minute-fame speaker who contributes little to the intellectual fire of the university."

A mandatory activities fee charged to each undergrad -- 1% of tuition -- funds the budget from which the money would have been drawn. SHAC wouldn't say how much of the $20,000 was going to Palin; the sum was OKd Tuesday to pay for the entire panel.

The "Protest SU's decision to bring Bristol Palin" Facebook page on Friday declared, "We won!"

"We thought a big name like Bristol's would help to start a dialogue," SHAC President Scott Elman told the campus newspaper. "We also wanted to target abstinence because SHAC and Sex Week have been criticized for being too liberal and too one-dimensional, and that the abstinence conversation hasn’t been brought up."

In a Friday editorial, Elman said: "Controversy was expected, but we did not anticipate such a swift, rash and political backlash. For a university that prides itself in the diversity, intellectual prowess and open-mindedness of its student body, we were shocked to see the formation of such hasty conclusions."

Dr. Katie Plax, a pediatrician and WU associate professor, will replace Palin on the panel, which also features representatives of the Catholic Student Center, Planned Parenthood and Student Health Services, Elman said.

In other Palin family news, "30 Rock" actor Tracy Morgan called Bristol's mom Sarah Palin "good masturbation material," when given a "who'd you rather"-type choice between the onetime vice presidential nominee and costar Tina Fey, known for her impression of the former Alaska governor. TNT apologized Friday for Morgan's comments, made on the network's "Inside the NBA" pregame show Thursday.

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-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photo: Bristol Palin on the set of "Extra" at the Grove in L.A. on Oct. 28. Credit: Michael Caulfield / Getty Images

 

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