So many colleges and universities across the country have traded their statuses as bastions of higher learning to become echo chambers of ideas cultivated by the political elite. A small school in Indiana joined those ranks recently, when students learned Vice President Mike Pence would be speaking at their graduation in mid-May.
Students and alumni from Taylor University — a Christian college in Upland — launched a petition after it was announced Pence, the former governor of Indiana, would be delivering the school’s commencement address.
The writer of the petition, Alex Hoekstra, who graduated in 2007, argued giving Pence a platform during graduation “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.”
Another graduate, Claire Hadley, wrote on Facebook she felt “so physically ill” after reading the vice president would be speaking at the Christian college’s graduation ceremony.
“I am physically shaking,” she wrote. “The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it’s students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year.”
“Taylor University, I feel personally attacked,” Hadley continued. “Please, I’m begging you. Don’t do this.”
Not everyone is very deeply offended by Pence’s coming presence at the university. A handful of students started a counter-petition, voicing their support for the vice president.
Kevin Holtsberry, a 1994 graduate of Taylor University, told PJ Media that the vice president speaking at the college “is not an attack on students, faculty or alumni with differing political views or opinions about Mike Pence.”
All the hubbub over Pence’s graduation speech comes as he is in the middle of a tête-à-tête with Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who has been attacking the vice president over his Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
While Buttigieg went so far as to question the authenticity of Pence’s salvation, the vice president has largely stayed out of the one-sided battle, simply saying the South Bend, Indiana, mayor “knows better” than to say “things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally.”
“He knows me,” Pence said, “but I get it. You know, it’s look, again, 19 people running for president on that side in a party that’s sliding off to the left. And they’re all competing with one another for how much more liberal they are.”