Vice President Mike Pence was the commencement speaker at the Taylor University graduation ceremony in Indiana on Saturday. But for a sizable portion of the nearly 500-person class, he wasn’t a welcomed guest.
Reports indicate dozens of attendees walked out of the venue shortly before Pence walked out to begin his remarks. The staged protest had been organized amid growing tension on campus about inviting the controversial conservative. Pence served as the state’s governor prior to becoming vice president.
Despite the walkout, many in the crowd were enthusiastically supportive of Pence’s arrival. He reportedly received a standing ovation from the remaining attendees.
“I thought it was a really inappropriate decision,” Laura Rathburn said of her university’s choice. “I think his presence makes it difficult for everyone at Taylor to feel welcomed.”
She took part in the protest with a graduation cap bearing the phrase “Ally Visible For Those Who Can’t Be” and a rainbow. News of the protest spread far beyond campus via several online petitions.