After an unexpected public backlash when Vice President Pence was tapped as commencement speaker, a Taylor University student started an “I Like Mike” campaign to show the overwhelming majority at the small Christian college in rural Indiana support the state’s former governor.
David Muselman, 20, a freshman finance major from Berne, told Fox News he started the campaign because he couldn’t believe the backlash after the university announced Pence would be speaking at its May 18 commencement.
Some upset students and alumni launched a petition to have Pence’s invitation rescinded, saying they felt “personally attacked” and were “physically shaking.” Critics said students would “feel unsafe at their own graduation.”
The backlash received national headlines.
“My whole motive behind selling these ‘I Like Mike’ T-shirts was to tell the world that a huge majority of campus was thrilled at Taylor’s decision,” Muselman said. “The silent majority is in full-fledged support, while a very, very small minority is not supportive.”
Paul Lowell Haines, the president of Taylor, praised the vice president as a “good friend to the university over many years,” and “a Christian brother whose life and values have exemplified what we strive to instill in our graduates.”
The university stands by its decision to feature Pence as its graduation 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,” said Taylor University spokesman James Garringer. “Taylor University is an intentional Christian community that strives to encourage positive, respectful and meaningful dialogue.”
Muselman said he quickly sold out of T-shirts, which the students wore to chapel on May 3 and many said they plan to wear them a few more times before Pence’s speech later this month.
“After wearing my shirt, people from all over campus – students, faculty, maintenance employees, etc. – have all said they love it and are in support of Vice President Pence,” Muselman added. “Taylor likes Mike!”