ST. LOUIS — Organizers at Washington University have canceled plans to have Bristol Palin, daughter of former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, speak at the university about abstinence.
The decision came late Thursday after students expressed anger over Palin being paid from a student-generated fund to be part of a panel discussion Feb. 7, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A Facebook petition to stop Palin's appearance had hundreds of signatures Thursday evening.
"People are getting so angry because of the opposition to Palin's lack of expertise and the high cost she is charging," especially in light of budget cuts that have adversely affected other student activities, said Philip Thomas, the Washington University student who initiated the petition.
Palin, who became a single mom at 17, was invited by the Student Health Advisory Committee earlier in the week to speak during the school's Student Sexual Responsibility Week. Palin had not signed a contract with the university. Her public relations representatives did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday.
The health committee and Palin decided Thursday night "that the message that they intended on sharing would be overshadowed by controversy," according to a university statement.
It's not clear how much Palin was to receive, but student leaders had approved spending $20,000 for the panel. Palin has signed on for speaking engagements with Single Source Speakers, and she reportedly will command between $15,000 and $30,000 per speech.
Scott Elman, president of the health advisory committee, said the decision to cancel Palin's appearance was "100 percent mutual" between Palin and the committee. Elman said he was disappointed students weren't more open to having Palin speak.
Palin will be replaced on the panel by Katie Plax, head of adolescent medicine and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine. The panel will also include representatives from the university's Catholic Student Center, Missouri Right To Life and Planned Parenthood.