GROVE CITY (KDKA) — As many as 5,000 people are expected to attend Grove City College’s 137th commencement ceremony on Saturday.
More than 600 degrees will be conferred, making this the largest graduating class in the school’s history.
Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony.
The former governor of the state of Indiana is a staunch Christian conservative, and Grove City College is a private Christian Liberal Arts college. There’s a definite air of excitement on campus.
Grove City senior Allison Bimber told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I’m very excited. He was actually my congressman in Indiana; I’ve known him almost all my life. I identify with his Christian values, and his conservative political standards.”
Another senior, Kelleigh Huber, said, “I’m also very excited. He’s a perfect fit for Grove City. He’s everything we could hope for in a speaker.”
Access to the campus Saturday will be limited. Fences are already in place and metal detectors will be installed for the outdoor ceremony.
But not everyone agrees with school’s choice of speaker.
Grove City College junior Molly Wicker, of Sewickley, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, questioning Pence’s appearance. It appeared in the paper on Friday.
In it, Wicker wrote: “By being politically accommodating to the administration of a faithless man who enacts damaging policies, the school is sending graduates a message that undermines the intention of the institution.”
“I do think it puts the college in a unique position of having a politician like Mr. Pence, who is so closely aligned with the Trump administration on our campus,” Wicker said. “This is a great opportunity for us to look at how we all talk about an issue that we don’t have the same opinions on.”
Protests are expected on streets adjacent to the campus.
Grove City College Communication Studies Professor Dr. Todd Allen plans to stage a more personal protest. He’s boycotting the ceremony all together.
“He’s got a right to be heard, but I also have the right to decide whether I want to be there. So, I will not be attending the ceremony. I will be on campus, and I look forward to embracing the students when they have their diplomas and meeting their families.”