Notre Dame students plan walkout during Pence speech

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

President Donald Trump's second-in-command will also deliver a commencement address that day at Grove City College, a Christian school in western Pennsylvania, before returning to his native in on Sunday, where he will deliver a commencement speech at University of Notre Dame. The walkout will be silent so as not to disrupt the ceremony for the other graduates. The main organizers of the event are We Go High! of St. Joe County, IN; Michiana Alliance for Democracy; the Nu Black Power Movement; South Bend Equality; Inclusive Michiana; and Planned Parenthood of IN and Kentucky.

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

As of the afternoon of May 19, more than 100 people indicated on the Facebook event page that they would attend, while more than 300 people marked that they were interested.

Pence is scheduled to be the last speaker at the event, but the soon-to-be graduates of the prestigious Catholic university will miss the tassel-turning that symbolizes their commencement, reports WGNTV.

The group also produced a video of student reactions to Pence's upcoming commencement address.

April Lidinsky, with Planned Parenthood Community Action Partners and Indiana Reproductive Justice Coalition, described the protest as an "unwelcome home" celebration for the former governor.

"The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the University's community", Xitlaly Estrada, a Notre Dame undergraduate, said in a release from We StaND For.

Mary Ellen Hegedus is an organizer with We Go High! of St. Joseph County, a grassroots citizens group committed to strengthening and promoting the "inalienable rights" of all Americans, especially marginalized groups such as immigrants.

Among Hegedus' issues with the vice president: His support for a controversial religious liberty bill and his attempt to ban Syrian refugees from the state as governor.

Pence is hardly the first elected official to face a protest at a university commencement, and he is not the first member of President Donald Trump's cabinet to face a tough crowd.

"It is fitting that in the 175th year of our founding on in soil that Notre Dame recognize a native son who served our state and now the nation with quiet earnestness, moral conviction and a dedication to the common good characteristic of true statesmen", Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a statement. "And is inviting Mike Pence representative of [those values]?" "The decision to invite [Vice President] Pence is outrageously inconsistent with those goals".

Organizers expect a peaceful demonstration.

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