Some faculty members walked out on Louisiana Tech’s commencement ceremony Saturday in protest of the university’s honored guest, “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson.
The faculty members joined a social media campaign arranged by LGBT students after they found out just the day before that the university would honor the reality TV star, even after he was under fire last year for his incendiary remarks about gay people.
In a statement to KNOE-TV, the university said it stood by the three faculty members who participated in the protest.
“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,” the statement read, according to the local TV outlet.
Student groups complained they were given minimal time to react to the announcement Friday. The university pointed out that the Louisiana Tech Alumni Association selected Robertson and that it’s typical that the name of the award recipient not be announced prior to the commencement ceremonies.
Last December, Robertson was briefly suspended from the A&E network after he made controversial remarks about race and homosexuality an interview with GQ magazine.
The family patriarch did not attend the ceremony, but his wife and son, Kay and Alan, accepted the award on his behalf, according to local news reports.
The reality show begins its sixth season on June 11.