A large group of students from The University of Notre Dame in South Bend Indiana staged a protest against Vice President Mike Pence by walking out of their graduation ceremony, according to Fox News.
In the video posted below, a large group of students can be seen staging the walk-out seconds after Mike Pence took the stage at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony. While several students were seen booing, there were also cheers from the audience. As of now, estimates are that more than 100 students were part of the walk-out protest. Most of the students exited the Notre Dame stadium from gates 27 and 28 with the knowledge that they would not be able to re-enter again for the graduation ceremony.
The possibility of a mass walkout at Notre Dame has been talked about for well over a month now. In fact, the Inquisitr had also reported about the same in a previous report. The walkout was planned soon after Notre Dame officials announced in March that Indiana’s former governor and the current Vice President of the United States would be the university’s graduation speaker for 2017.
Bryan Ricketts, the former (2015-16) president of Notre Dame’s student body was one of the leaders of the protests and was among the students who graduated on Sunday. In an interview to a local news channel, Ricketts said he and many of his peers were “upset and hurt” by the decision to invite Pence because his “policies have impacted the humanity of certain graduates.”
Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s student organization WeStaNDFor issued a press release in which they detailed their opposition to Pence. The press release revealed that they were protesting against Pence’s beliefs as far as gay rights go. They were also against Pence’s attempts to stop the resettling of Syrian refugees in Indiana and his support for President Trump’s travel ban. Earlier, the group had also posted instructions aimed at students telling them how to conduct the walkout.
“Walk away from Pence quietly, in confidence, with your head up high, taking your time. Embrace the moment, maybe even hold hands/lock arms with those joining you.”
In fact, the group had also met several Notre Dame officials to tell them about their walk out plans and devised a peaceful and “respectful” way to do it. The Notre Dame police chief was aware of the possibility of the walkout and had confirmed that they would only intervene if the ceremony was disrupted or if anyone’s safety was put at risk.
Meanwhile, several people were appalled at the student’s decision to stage the walkout and thought it was in poor taste. Some people even described it as a disgrace. According to Natalie Duffy, a mom who was in the stadium t witness her son graduate, the walkout was unnecessary.
“We think it’s in poor taste. We think it’s disrespectful. It’s so unnecessary. This is a good man who is coming here for graduation,” Natalie said. She further added, “I wonder about this new generation, how they do this kind of thing. And I think better of Notre Dame students that they’d do this kind of thing. But it’s a very small group. I don’t think they represent Notre Dame at all.”
She also confirmed that her son, who pursued a five-year MBA computer science program from Notre Dame was not a part of the protesters and was not aware of any such protests happening until it happened.
There were also separate protests against Pence’s visit organized by local activist groups held in towns located a few miles south of the campus. Notre Dame has had a history of inviting newly elected Presidents for its graduation ceremonies. In the past, Dwight Eisenhower (1960), Jimmy Carter (1977), Ronald Reagan (1981), George H.W. Bush (1992), George W. Bush (2001), and Barack Obama (2009) have accepted invitations for the commencement speech. With his visit to Notre Dame, Mike Pence has become the first ever vice president to give a commencement address at Notre Dame.
[Featured Image by Keith Srakocic/AP Images]