Friday, 16 November, 2018

Graduates walk out on Pence at Notre Dame commencement

Herman Weaver | 22 May, 2017, 17:49

Only 50 were expected to take part in the silent gesture, but reports estimated that more than 100 students headed for the exit when Pence, who earned an honorary degree from Notre Dame, walked toward the podium.

Pence's press secretary, noted that the students who walked out made up a small percentage of the graduates. Praising Notre Dame as an "island in a sea of conformity", Pence called on graduates to "be leaders for the freedom of thought and expression" and to carry Notre Dame's values into their postgraduate lives.

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.

There were also demonstrators unaffiliated with the graduation ceremony who gathered near the Notre Dame campus to protest the vice president's presence. The group said they opposed the former IN governor for his positions on gay rights, supporting Donald Trump's controversial travel ban, and previous attempts to stop Syrian refugees settling IN Indiana. They advised students on how to protest: 'Walk away from Pence quietly, in confidence, with your head up high, taking your time. "These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge and they are wholly outside the American tradition".

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"I was a student here at Notre Dame in 2015 when Mike Pence in IN passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act without including initially civil rights protections for LGBT people", Bryan Ricketts, one of the students who walked out of the ceremony, told CNN when asked about the protest.

Speaking after the walkout, Luis told The Tab: "It went fantastic". Students said the walkout was a show of solidarity for those affected by President Trump's policies.

A Notre Dame school official tells TMZ the university was aware of the walk-out, and even helped them out a bit for minimal distractions.

Back in 2009, Obama's commencement speech was also met with opposition, as conservative anti-abortion groups protested against Obama's pro-choice stance. ND is a Catholic school. and Pence is famously Christian.

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