Phil Robertson honored at Louisiana Tech University commencement; prompts outrage, protestsEntertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
To the chagrin of many in the audience, Phil Robertson was honored at commencement ceremonies held last Saturday at Louisiana Tech University which caused outrage and walk-outs over the awarding of the schools prestigious Tower Medallion award to the Duck Dynasty patriarch, reality star and preacher. The announcement, made less than 24 hours before, had the campus LGBT community scrambling to find an appropriate and measured response.
Hannah Ellsworth, president of Prism, a coalition member of Equality Louisiana (EQLA), a statewide coalition of over 30 LGBT and allied organizations, told KNOE, which first broke the story that, “We wanted to make a statement displaying our disapproval of the honoring, and for several reasons, including the minimal time we were given to react, a social media campaign was the best way to do this. Faculty, staff, and students didn’t have any time to give input since no one knew until the day before.” The social media campaign accompanied a walk-out by several faculty members during the commencement ceremony.
Phil Robertson has come under fire for his anti-gay views which first came to light in an interview with GQ Magazine back in January of this year. In an interview with Drew Magary, Robertson was quoted, when asked for his definition of sin, as saying, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Several months later, during an Easter sermon in April at Whites Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, Louisiana, Robertson went on to mock the interview with Magary – and the press in general – and reiterated much of what he told the men’s magazine. But despite initially suspending Robertson from appearing on future episodes on the A&E ratings bonanza, A&E reversed course.
Meanwhile, Tim S. West, president of Equality Louisiana issued a statement saying EQLA was proud of the Prism leadership and members for standing up for their community on campus. “I was very happy to hear that some of the faculty members walked out of the commencement ceremony in protest. I think that sends a very strong message. The views held by Robertson are not the views held by all Louisianans.”
For their part, Louisiana Tech University finally issued a statement on Monday which read:
“The right to express and debate differences in opinions, ideologies, and values is at the core of a university community, and Louisiana Tech certainly supports its faculty in this exercise of free expression. It’s important to note that the annual Tower Medallion recipient is selected by the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association and its member representatives, and not the university. It recognizes those alumni who have achieved in their professions while remaining loyal to their university. The name of the recipient is not released prior to the announcement at spring commencement, which is also the case with the faculty award winners who are announced for the first time, following the Tower Medallion winner. Despite the decision of the three faculty members who opted to protest the award recipient, the focus for Louisiana Tech remained on recognizing the 957 students who successfully completed their studies and honoring them for their achievements. We are extremely proud of what they have accomplished and look forward to them representing us as Louisiana Tech alumni.”
According to their Web site, the annual Tower Medallion recipient is someone who “[has] distinguished themselves by exceptional achievement, community service and humanitarian activities. The purpose of the award is to recognize those exceptional individuals who have brought honor not only to themselves but to the University as well.”
Robertson received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s in education from the school.
Correction: We inadvertently stated that Phil Robertson appeared at this year’s Louisiana Tech University commencement ceremony and may have led readers to believe that this was the source of the protests. In fact, it was his being honored with an award that caused them. This has now been corrected. His wife and son stood in for Mr. Robertson at Saturday’s ceremony. We apologize for the oversight.
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