Indiana College Students Walk Out of Graduation in Protest of Mike Pence
According to the Indy Star, dozens of students and faculty at Taylor University in Indiana reportedly walked out of a graduation ceremony Saturday minutes before Vice President Pence took the stage to deliver the commencement address.
The protest, which was planned prior to Saturday’s ceremony, comes after the university community debated the appropriateness of Pence’s appearance at the Christian liberal arts institution.
Most of Taylor’s graduating class of 494 students remained for Pence’s speech and gave the former Indiana GOP governor a standing ovation after the walkout, the newspaper reported.
Laura Rathburn, who decorated her cap with a rainbow and a message that said, “Ally Visible For Those Who Can’t Be,” said she was disappointed with Taylor University’s decision to invite Pence.
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“I thought it was a really inappropriate decision. I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed,” she told The Star before the ceremony.
The school’s social work department also made stickers that said, “We are Taylor too” to protest Pence’s presence.
I’m also seeing that a tweet I sent earlier didn’t post. Some faculty and graduates in the social work dept. wore stickers that said, “We are Taylor too” in protest of Pence’s presence at Taylor. Another graduate decorated her cap with a protest message. pic.twitter.com/g9PcfBNfJU
— Alexandria Burris (@AllyBurris) May 18, 2019
Various Change.org petitions garnered thousands of signatures asking the university to rescind Pence’s invitation.
“Inviting Vice President Pence to Taylor University and 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,” one said.
“I knew it was going to be rough because he’s such a large political figure and this administration’s made some very unpopular and sometimes like harmful decision for people,” graduate Jennifer Nelson told The Star. “We have students from all over the world and like even students who have been impacted by some of this administration — not just the presidency but by Pence when he was governor here.”
Pence tweeted Saturday morning to thank Indiana for a “warm welcome” ahead of his commencement address.
Thank you for the warm welcome, Indiana! @SecondLady & I are happy to be home in the Hoosier state. Heading to @TaylorU to offer the commencement address to the class of 2019 at 10:30! pic.twitter.com/tQ6v7nIAhk
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 18, 2019