Group of Notre Dame Students Walk Out on Mike Pence’s Commencement Address

Notre Dame graduates walk out of Notre Dame Stadium in protest as Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the 2017 commencement ceremony, May 21, 2017, in South Bend, Ind. (Robert Franklin/South Bend Tribune via AP Photo)

A group of graduating seniors from the University of Notre Dame turned their backs on their own graduation ceremony in protest of Vice President Mike Pence, who gave their commencement address there on Sunday.

The protests, which were organized by a student activist group at Notre Dame called We Stand For, were staged in response to “marginalized people affected by Pence’s politics,” according to a Facebook post published by the group last week, which urged students to join them in the walk out.

“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,” the group wrote. “We also will walk out in dignity and solidarity with all marginalized people affected by Pence’s politics, both on this campus and throughout our nation.”

Video of the protest shows students leaving the facility without any signs of disruption. Many of them were wearing rainbow colored accessories in solidarity with LGBTQ politics.

The speech marked a homecoming of sorts for Pence, who served as the governor of Indiana while many of the students who graduated today were attending school there.

Aside from those who walked out on him, Pence was greeted warmly by the students, some of whom booed the protesters.

The vice president used the opportunity of the speech to advocate for free speech on college campuses, and criticize what he called “administration-sanctioned political correctness.”

“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,” he said in the address.

He called the atmosphere of policing speech “destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge.”

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SOURCE: ABC News, Michael Edison Hayden