Angry Graduates Walk Out on Mike Pence’s Commencement Speech

Grads at Taylor University weren't on board with Pence as their commencement speaker.

Some graduates and faculty at Indiana’s Taylor University refused to give their commencement speaker, anti-LGBTQ Vice President Mike Pence, any gratification.

According to the Indianapolis Star, dozens of Class of 2019 alumni and a handful of Taylor University faculty members quietly left the college’s graduation ceremony after Pence took the podium.

The walkout stemmed from an earlier debate among Taylor University community members, who argued whether it was acceptable for a nondenominational Christian liberal arts school to have a notoriously conservative politician deliver its commencement address. According to USA Today, thousands of students signed a petition asking the university to reconsider its choice of commencement speaker.

Laura Rathburn, a Taylor University alum who graduated this semester, told the Indy Star that Pence’s presence makes it “really difficult for everyone in the Taylor community to feel welcome and celebrated at our commencement.”

Demonstrators aside, most of Taylor University’s graduating class remained seated for the full ceremony—and according to the Indy Star, Pence took the opportunity to drive home the importance of upholding Christian values.

“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 build your life on a Christ-centered, world-engaging foundation poured here at Taylor University, be prepared to stand up.”

Seems like some recent graduates heeded his call to “stand up” both literally and figuratively, huh?

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.