Students, faculty walk out after VP Mike Pence takes the stage to deliver speech at Taylor University's graduation ceremony
Frustrated by their University's choice to have Pence speak, dozens of students and faculty members walked out as a sign of protest
Dozens of students and faculty of Taylor University did not seem to like having Vice President of the United States Mike Pence deliver a speech at the University on Saturday, May 18. They were seen walking out as soon as Pence took the stage, in a protest that is reported to have been planned earlier. Pence, who has drawn flak for his regressive take on LGBTQ issues in an already controversial Trump regime began his speech with some of his religious beliefs. The students quietly got up and left the graduation ceremony held at Upland, Indiana, on Saturday.
"Throughout most of our American history, it's been pretty easy to call yourself a Christian, but things are different now," Pence said during his speech, according to the Indianapolis Star. "Lately, it's become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs." However, after the protestors walked out, Pence was greeted with a standing ovation for his speech.
Protestors felt that inviting someone like Pence was insensitive and sent out a negative message. "I thought it was a really inappropriate decision. I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed," said Laura Rathburn, a graduate. She was one of the protestors walking out on the VP, joining those wearing "We are Taylor too" on their person as a sign of protest.
Before the speech actually happened, students and faculty had also started a petition asking the University to withdraw the invitation for Pence to speak. The petition said, "giving him a coveted platform for his political views makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies, which we believe are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear." However, there was also a counter-petition urging that the University keep their invite.
He is the first-ever U.S. executive branch official to speak at the University.