Students to stage walkout of Pence speech

Pablo Tucker
May 20, 2017

"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 honored speaker", reads the event description.

A collection of recent Notre Dame graduates plan to protest Vice President Mike Pence's appearance at commencement this Sunday by "standing up and walking out of the ceremony".

Student organizers told ThinkProgress that 50 to 100 people could walk out of Pence's remarks Sunday.

An activist group at the IN university said they are planning the demonstration to show solidarity with LGBTQ, undocumented, low-income, and female students-all targets of the Trump administration's regressive policies. Protesters are using the hashtag #WalkOutND to bring awareness to the plans.

"Some media outlets have portrayed students" decision to protest as an example of progressive young people fearing political disagreement. "And to have somebody who has been working actively against our humanity, for being who we are, to be speaking to our class, addressing our class, and being conferred with a degree is just unacceptable".

But Bryan Ricketts, one of the We StaND For student organizers, said "it's a very legitimate thing for people to be scared" of the vice president.

"Some students are undocumented and some parents are driving to see their kid graduate because they can't get on a plane", he said.

The university is not particularly anxious about the protest.

Other local groups are also expected to protest Pence's visit.

"We think they will be respectful in the way they express their differences with the administration", added Browne.

Six presidents from both sides of the aisle have given commencement speeches at Notre Dame, including Barack Obama in 2009 and George W. Bush in 2001. The state and local organizations involved in these protests include We Go High!, South Bend Equality, and Michiana Alliance for Democracy.

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