Published: Thu, June 01, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Notre Dame University Students Protest Mike Pence's Commencement Speech


A statement from those who organized the protest said that, as governor of IN and vice president of the United States, Pence has "targeted the civil rights protections of members of the LGBT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee settlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities and fought against sanctuary cities".

Vice President Mike Pence addressed a smaller-than-expected commencement this year as dozens of Notre Dame students silently stood up and left as he took the podium Sunday. He is the first vice president to deliver the commencement address. The university and campus police department had been made aware of it as well.

On Sunday local time, as the Vice President approached the podium, students from the Catholic university in northern in rose from their seats and silently filed towards the exits. Pence set off a large backlash in early 2015 when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which gave in businesses "who object to same-sex couples. a legal right to deny them services", as the Two-Way reported.

According to The Telegraph, around 150 students stood up and walked out of their own graduation ceremony in protest over the vice president's speech, which lauded the leadership of President Trump.

"It was a wonderful show of solidarity", former student body president Bryan Ricketts told The Indianapolis Star after the protest.

And indeed there was a free exchange of ideas at Notre Dame's graduation ceremony.

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A petition signed by thousands, including students and faculty, requested that the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, refrain from inviting President Trump.

"These all-too-common practises are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge, and they are wholly outside the America tradition", he added.

Back in 2009, Obama's commencement speech was also met with opposition, as conservative anti-abortion groups protested against Obama's pro-choice stance.

Local news reported that about 150 people in total walked out of Pence's speech and they said it was President Donald Trump's policies which caused the protest.

In his remarks at the IN university, the vice president criticized what he called campus "safe spaces" and urged students not to suppress free speech.

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