The picture of the aggrieved and trembling college student unable to cope with hearing unpleasant things, or simply things with which they disagree, is fast becoming the face of higher education in the United States. It is therefore not a surprise that the invitation of Vice President Mike Pence to speak on a campus might result in some safe space complaining.
It is perhaps somewhat a surprise that, in this case, it's an evangelical Christian school: Taylor University. In the VP's own state of Indiana.
After it was announced that the Vice President of the United States would give the graduating students the honor of high office at their commencement, some students, and even alum and parents, went into meltdown. PJ Media's Tyler O'Neil has their reactions.
Naturally, there was a petition.
"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," Alex Hoekstra, a former staffer for President Barack Obama and a 2007 Taylor University graduate, said in the petition.
Others proved more angry and visceral.
"I have never been made to feel so physically ill by an email before. Taylor University, you should be ashamed of yourselves," Claire Hadley, who graduated from Taylor in 2015, began in a long Facebook post. "I am physically shaking. The fact that the school who claims to love and support me, and each of it's [sic] students and alum, would invite such a vile individual to speak on the most important day of the year??"
"VP Pence is no friend of mine. He does not support me. He does not support equality," Hadley declared. "He does not uphold the values that are at the very core of the church, my own faith, and I would hope, of this University. He is rooted in hate. To stand beside President Trump would have been enough to put him on my watch list." She argued that Mike Pence "only values you if you fit in his very narrow, white, straight, box."
"Taylor University, I feel personally attacked," she concluded. "Please, I'm begging you. Don't do this."
Lindsey Snyder, a 2014 graduate, said she emailed Taylor University President Lowell Haines. "This invitation gravely concerns me, because whether intentional or not, it is politicizing Taylor University, aligning the school with the current administration," she reported writing. "Many current and former Taylor students are adamantly against some of Pence's stances and will no doubt feel unsafe at their own graduation. Even if it was someone less controversial than Pence, having a political figure speak at commencement alights unnecessary and grievous conflict."
There is so much more. Not everyone had the same reaction, and some among the student body and the alumni have responded. On Saturday, O'Neil reported that a counter-petition has been launched, and is picking up steam.
O'Neil spoke with one graduate, Kevin Holtsberry of the class of '94, who told him "Inviting the sitting vice president of the United States, and former Indiana governor and congressman, to speak at commencement is not an attack on students, faculty or alumni with differing political views or opinions about Mike Pence," Kevin Holtsberry.
The fact that these students at a Christian university in middle America, in the state where Pence was the governor not that long ago, shows just how far the "woke" college experience has extended. It's not just coastal elites. It's right in your backyard.