DOZENS of graduates, faculty members WALK OUT of Mike Pence commencement speech

Dozens of Taylor University graduates and faculty members reportedly walked out of their own commencement ceremony ahead of Vice President Mike Pence speaking there.

According to multiple outlets, including Fox News, dozens of students graduating from the Indiana Christian university, as well as faculty members, protested Pence's presence by staging a walkout, although most of the nearly 500 graduates stayed in place. 

The Indianapolis Star spoke with students at the commencement ceremony about the vice president's invitation. 

"I was really disappointed in Taylor's decision to welcome Pence as our commencement speaker," Taylor graduate Laura Rathburn said. "I think it was an inappropriate decision. His presence makes it really difficult for everyone in the Taylor community to feel welcome and celebrated at our commencement." 

[RELATED: Christian university faces backlash after announcing Mike Pence as commencement speaker]

The walkout came after one Taylor University alumnus,  Washington, D.C. resident Alex Hoekstra, created a petition against Pence, the former Indiana congressman and governor, delivering the commencement address. At the time of publication of this article, the petition had more than 8,000 signatures, although it was not clear how many of those were actually students, faculty, or alumni of Taylor University. 

According to Hoekstra, having Pence speak at Taylor make “alumni, faculty, staff and current students complicit in the Trump-Pence Administration's policies which … are not consistent with the Christian ethic of love we hold dear.” Campus Reform asked Hoekstra to comment for this article; he did not respond in time for publication. 

The protest came after Franklin Graham, an evangelical leader and son of the late Rev. Billy Graham, spoke out against the school's protesting students and alumni, asking "what are you smoking?" 

[RELATED: Franklin Graham to Christian univ. students, alumni: What are you 'smoking'?]

Despite the backlash, however, Taylor University remained steadfast in its decision to host Pence as the commencement speaker. 

“Since making the announcement of Vice President Mike Pence’s upcoming commencement speech, we have received feedback from people on either side of the issue. Taylor University is an intentional Christian community that strives to encourage posi

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Ole Miss rewards prof who said 'senators don't deserve your civility' with tenure

The University of Mississippi professor who said that U.S. senators "don't deserve your civility" just days after Sen. Ted Cruz was run out of a Washington, D.C. restaurant by anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters was granted tenure Thursday by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. 

While professors typically are granted this perk not afforded to professionals in other industries without opposition, Ole Miss sociology professor James Thomas's tenure recommendation was debated by the governing body for at least two hours before eventually being approved, but not without some dissent, according to a news release from Mississippi Public Universities.  

[RELATED: Ole Miss prof: Senators 'don't deserve your civility']

While the professor's statements on social media were considered, "ultimately it was the recommendation of the professor's institution, the University of Mississippi, that carried the greatest weight in the majority of the Board's decision to grant tenure to the professor." 

Campus Reform reported on the controversy surrounding a tweet from Thomas back in October, around the same time that leftists were fighting President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh's confirmation mostly centered around unfounded allegations of 30-year-old sexual assault allegations, including ones from two women who later recanted their claims. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) supported Kavanaugh's confirmation and was run out of a Washington, D.C. restaurant for his support of the nominee. 

[RELATED: GMU students want Kavanaugh fired]

Thomas later praised the behavior of the protesters who ran Cruz out of the establishment, writing in a tweet, “don't just interrupt a Senator's meal, y'all. Put your whole damn fingers in their salads. Take their [appetizers] and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility."

Campus Reform called Thomas back in October to ask for a comment on the controversy over his tweet. Thomas hung up the phone. 

For this piece, Campus Reform asked Thomas and the University of Mississippi to comment. Responses were not received in time for publication.

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Maine becomes first state to BAN Native American mascots

Maine is the first state in the country to ban any public universities from having a mascot that t "depicts or refers to a Native American tribe, individual, custom or tradition." 

Maine Democrat Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday that banning Native American mascot depictions in public schools, including K-12 and public colleges and universities, according to the Bangor Daily News. 

"A public school may not have or adopt a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to a Native American tribe, individual, custom or tradition and that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead or team name of the school," the text of the bill reads. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: GW students say 'Colonials' mascot too offensive]

“While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish. A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride. Our people, communities understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time our symbols reflect that," Mills said in a statement. 

The bill will take effect 90 days after the state legislature adjourns. The move by the Democrat governor comes less than one month after Mills signed a bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day, as the Bangor Daily News also reported. 

Both pieces of legislation were introduced by state Rep. Ben Collings, a Democrat.

“I am deeply proud of the steps our Legislature has taken this session to finally honor Maine’s tribes in the way they should be honored," Collings said of the legislation to ban Native American mascots. "Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state. They are people, not mascots. I am grateful Gov. Mills continues to support laws that recognize the rightful place of indigenous people in our state."

Maine isn't the only part of the country pushing to ban mascots deemed offensive by some. 

In late March, students at George Washington University in the nation's capital voted in favor of banning the school's "Colonial" mascot. 

  And in fall 2018, California State University-Long Beach announced that it would change its "Prospector Pete" C

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