Graduates walk out on Pence at Notre Dame commencement

A large crowd of students walked out of the Notre Dame commencement ceremony Sunday in protest of the speaker, Vice President Mike Pence, who delivered a speech that mixed platitudes about bright, dream-filled futures with a lengthy rebuke of political correctness on college campuses.

"We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony to walk out with us as we take back our graduation and show our dissatisfaction with the University's selection of Mike Pence as honoured speaker", the post read.

The former IN governor "has supported policies that have targeted the weakest and most vulnerable among us", said graduate student Luis Miranda to NBC affiliate WNDU before graduation day.

A commencement speech Pence gave Saturday at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, was also met with peaceful protestors as some students grappled with the university's decision to invite someone so closely linked to a president whose morals many conservatives have criticized.

Trump has faced harsh criticism for his anti-Islamic rhetoric during the campaign, as well as his administration's legal battle to impose a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.

The VP began by praising Trump, specifically giving him credit for his address before the leaders of the Muslim world on his maiden overseas trip to Saudi Arabia. "These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge and they are wholly outside the American tradition".

It isn't the first time that students at the university have protested high-profile elected officials at commencement.

Bill Dimaro said he was proud of his graduating daughter, Cassandra, for taking part in the action. He made reference to how some of the university's beliefs align with those of President Donald Trump, such as standing strong to protect religious liberty and standing for the "unalienable right to life at home and overseas".

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

"Notre Dame is exceptional", Pence also said.

Even before the walkout, Notre Dame valedictorian C J Pine staged his own form of protest, condemning Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments in his speech to the graduates.

  • Salvatore Jensen