Taylor University, one of America’s oldest, private, evangelical colleges, announced last week that Vice President Mike Pence would be a featured speaker at the May 18 commencement ceremony, reports Newsweek.
“Mr. Pence has been a good friend to the University over many years, and is a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates,” Taylor University President Dr. Paul Lowell Haines said. “We welcome the Vice President and his wife, Karen Pence, to this 173-year-old premier institution of Christian higher education, and thank them for their love and service for our nation, our state, and our institution.”
The school, located in Upland, Indiana, praised Pence for his work as governor of Indiana, by expanding school choice and creating the first state-funded pre-Kindergarten plan in the state’s history.
In response to the announcement, a Change.org petition was launched to encourage students and family to sign and also contact the university by phone to ask that the Vice President’s invitation be rescinded.
“Inviting Vice President Mike Pence to Taylor University makes our alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump Administration’s policies, which we believe are not consistent with an ethic of love,” the petition said.
People who identified themselves as current students and alumni signed the petition, with one person commenting that the upcoming speech made them “ashamed” of their alma mater.
Others declared that they would no longer be supporting the educational institution. Another suggested that Democratic presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg would have made a better choice.
Alex Hoekstra, who graduated in 2007 and started the petition, told Newsweek that he hopes to see a response from the university because Trump’s administration didn’t reflect “Jesus,” “the Bible,” or the “ethics of Christian love.”
“As an alumni of Taylor and as a gay man I’m pretty personally injured by the policies of the Trump/Pence administration and I know that a lot of alumni who identify as other minority groups are personally affected by the Trump/Pence administration,” Hoekstra said.