Vice President Mike Pence’s willingness to speak at a small liberal arts school in a virtually unknown southern Michigan town is incredible, and we should be grateful to meet him.
Pence embodies the values we hold highly at Hillsdale College, and he makes our day of celebration even bigger than it already is.
Last summer, I had the distinct honor to intern in the Office of the Vice President, and I had several encounters with the Vice President himself. Each time I spoke with him, I was struck by his humility, his confidence, and his sincerity, and I fully trust that he will approach his commencement address with the same humility, confidence, and sincerity that pervade all of his personal interactions.
Pence already demonstrated his understanding of the conservatism that Hillsdale students claim to defend — a conservatism that transcends political affiliation — when he spoke here in 2010.
“[Presidential dignity] depends entirely upon character, self-discipline, and an understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie not only the republic, but life itself,” Pence said in the speech he gave at Hillsdale College on “The Presidency and the Constitution.” “We can still astound the world with justice, reason, and strength. I know this is true, but even if it was not we could not in decency stand down, if only for our debt to history. We owe a debt to those who came before.”
Pence understands the magnitude of conserving the eternal and universal truths that our predecessors have passed down to us. His politics adhere to these principles, but his conservatism surpasses the realm of laws and leaks. Before and after garnering national attention, Mike Pence openly and unashamedly defended the Christian faith, even in the face of criticism from political pundits and journalists. From advocating for the pro-life movement, to revealing that he prays with his family every morning, to defending his personal conviction not to eat dinner alone with a woman who is not his wife, Mike Pence has proven that he is a man of strong faith and deep conviction. As a student body that values faith, we should consider it a privilege to host a commencement speaker who defends his faith to the extent that Mike Pence does.
Pence understands and exemplifies the tradition and permanent principles we revere at Hillsdale College. Pence is a good man, and it will be an honor to walk across the stage and shake his hand on the day of our graduation.
Some say a speech from Mike Pence will tie Hillsdale College even more closely to the Trump administration than it already is. Whether or not you support the Trump administration that Mike Pence represents is totally your call, but if you believe that Hillsdale College is defined by the people who speak here, then you have a weak-minded view of the impact this school has. I believe Hillsdale College is strong enough to stand on its own merit. Through our Hillsdale education, we learn how to think, read, write, and speak effectively, and this is why Hillsdale students graduate and do amazing things — whether it’s starting their own small business, attending medical school, running for public office, or accepting a teaching position at a classical school.
The identity of this college is found in the education we are given here and in what we do with that education, not in who the class of 2018’s commencement speaker is. A good commencement speaker is a leader who exemplifies the character Hillsdale students should aspire to and the values the school holds dear. Pence does this, but even if this were not the case, I believe the reputation Hillsdale has because of the students who graduate from here far outweighs the impact of one commencement speaker, even if he is the Vice President of the United States.
Graduation will be inside instead of outside. People will have to wait in a security line for forty-five minutes. You don’t support the Trump administration. So what?
Yes, the purpose of a graduation is to celebrate the graduates and the work we have accomplished in our four years at Hillsdale. A speech from the Vice President at our commencement does not take away from the fact that this day exists to celebrate the successful journey we have all traveled at Hillsdale College.
Hillsdale teaches students more than academics. Hillsdale is founded on Judeo-Christian values, values that Mike Pence shares, and if we ascribe to those values, we’ll treat him as an undeniably upright man who wants to encourage us to take our Hillsdale education and do great things with it.
Macy Mount is a senior studying politics.