Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at the Notre Dame Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21st. However, many students who do not support Pence’s political views plan to walk out of the ceremony as soon as he begins speaking. They wish to leave the ceremony quietly and without disruption, then hold their own celebration outside.
In the past, the historically catholic University of Notre Dame has invited newly inaugurated presidents to speak at their commencement ceremonies. This year, a petition was signed by thousands of students and faculty asking the Notre Dame President John Jenkins not to invite President Trump to speak.
The human rights advocacy group We StaND For planned the walk-out and openly invite any students willing to join them on Sunday. Made up of like-minded students from Notre Dame and other local colleges, the group is opposed to Mike Pence’s actions during his term as Governor of Indiana, along with his beliefs on undocumented immigrants, sanctuary cities, and the LGBTQ community. They have posted an open invitation on Facebook detailing their walk-out plan, and encourage other students to join them.
Members of the group believe that to receive their degree in this fashion would be to endorse the policies of the Vice President and contradict their Catholic teachings and values. They believe that the targeting of vulnerable members of their college community, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, is an affront to their religious and moral obligations.
Notre Dame’s vice president of public affairs and communications, Paul Browne, has said that the school will not attempt to stop the walk-out, and will only take action if the protest severely disrupts Pence’s speech or if safety becomes a concern.
On the We StaND For Facebook page, there are varying opinions on the group’s walk-out. Some students and alumni are supportive of the protest, while others accuse the group of acting immaturely.