Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Notre Dame students walk out on Pence commencement address

Pence appeared not to take notice of the ongoing protest as grabbed the microphone to deliver his speech.

The school invited Pence to speak after students signed a petition against having President Trump speak at the commencement.

According to former student body president Bryan Ricketts, many students were "upset and hurt" by the announcement that Pence would be honored at their graduation because his "policies have impacted the humanity of certain graduates".

They planned a peaceful protest against the V.P. on the edge of campus.

Organizers of the previously announced protest were opposed to Pence's appearance at the 175th commencement, saying his policies "have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation".

The protest of Notre Dame was smaller compared to the protest against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in her commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Florida.

The university made a decision to instead invite Pence.

After rumors spread that students would walk out on the Vice President if he gave his address, the real thing did happen on Sunday afternoon.

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The walk-out was not overly disruptive, with the students who organised the protest apparently speaking to the university about how to leave the ceremony in such a way that they'd cause as little commotion as possible.

"This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America", he said.

Notre Dame traditionally selects the new president for its commencement ceremony, but this year chose Pence, who previously served as governor of Indiana.

Somewhat ironically, many students with (we presume) an opposite political persuasion to the Vice President, did not stick around to hear about how they should engage with other points of view. "These practices are destructive", Pence said.

In 2009, President Barack Obama was heckled by anti-abortion advocates during his speech at the university.

"We did it because we don't think he represents this university's values and this country's values", said graduate Patricia Fernandez.

After walking out, one unidentified graduate said to CNN: "Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are".

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