Dozens of students and faculty at a private evangelical Christian college in the US state of Indiana have reportedly walked out of a graduation ceremony just before Vice President Mike Pence took the stage to deliver the commencement address.
The protest action at Taylor University on Saturday, which was planned prior to the event, took place after the university community debated the appropriateness of inviting the hawkish US vice president to address graduates at the Christian liberal arts institution, local daily The Indianapolis Star reported.
Additionally, the university’s social work department also made stickers that read, “We are Taylor too” to protest Pence’s presence at the school.
Moreover, various petitions by Change.org further collected thousands of signatures calling on the university to rescind its invitation to Pence, a former governor of Indiana.
“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,” said one of the petitions.
“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,” said graduate student Jennifer Nelson as quoted by the daily.
“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,” she added.
According to the report, however, most of Taylor’s graduating class of 494 students remained for the vice president’s speech and gave him a standing ovation following the walkout by the protesting graduates.
Students also walked out during Pence’s commencement speech in 2017 at Notre Dame University’s graduation ceremony.
During his speech on Saturday, the vice president boasted the Trump administration’s policies, insisting that graduates were entering the job market during strong economic growth.
“You picked a great time to graduate from Taylor University. The America that awaits your energies and ambitions is experiencing a new era of optimism and opportunity. You’re beginning your careers at a time of a growing American economy and restored American stature at home and abroad,” Pence claimed.
This is while a number of economists have warned of a looming recession as the result of Washington’s hostile international trade policies, economic sanctions measures as well as military threats against countries it regards as unfriendly.