The Slatest

Dozens of Students, Faculty Walk Out of Pence’s Commencement Address at Taylor University

Vice President Mike Pence stops to greet and talk with tourists in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda May 14, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Vice President Mike Pence stops to greet and talk with tourists in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda May 14, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Many graduating seniors and faculty members at Taylor University made their displeasure known at having Vice President Mike Pence deliver the commencement address and walked out minutes before he took the stage, according to the Indianapolis Star. The small demonstration culminated a big debate that broke out among members of the community of the nondenominational Christian liberal arts school about whether the decision to invite the vice president was appropriate. Faculty members voted 61-49 to express their disagreement with the decision to invite Pence.

The vast majority of students and faculty did not walk out and even gave the former Indiana governor a standing ovation. But among some of those who stayed to listen to the speech there were those who decided to quietly protest the vice president’s presence with stickers declaring, “We are Taylor too.” One student, Laura Rathburn, decorated her cap with a rainbow and a message that read, “Ally visible for those who can’t be.” “I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed,” she said.

During the address, Pence urged students to “stand up” for Christianity, saying things aren’t as easy for Christians as they once were. “Throughout most of our American history it’s been pretty easy to call yourself a Christian, but things are different now,” Pence said. “Lately, it’s become acceptable, even fashionable, to malign traditional Christian beliefs. So as you prepare to leave this place and will your life on a Christ-centered, world-engaging foundation poured here at Taylor University, be prepared to stand up.”

Pence also praised the Trump administration’s views on abortion. “I couldn’t be more proud to be part of an administration that stood strong on the timeless values that have made this nation great, stood without apology for the sanctity of human life,” Pence said. The vice president didn’t mention the new anti-abortion law that was approved in Alabama.