ND students prove Pence right about civility at Commencement

Dozens of students staged a walk-out at Notre Dame’s commencement yesterday as Mike Pence took the podium to deliver the keynote address.

The walk-out was organized by the group We Stand For Notre Dame, which argued that graduating seniors should join the protest to stand up for marginalized and minority students on campus.

“We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony to walk out with us,” said the protest page, noting that the group hopes to “take back” graduation by taking a stand against Mike Pence as the honored speaker.

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“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,” the description continued before going on to allege that the policies Mike Pence supports are incompatible with Notre Dame’s Roman Catholic teachings, and that Pence’s policies “have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, and sexual orientation.”

Many students who walked out headed over to a formal anti-Pence protest held by the LGBT organization South Bend Equality, which invited community members to “creatively show your opposition to this man and what he represents.”

A spokesperson for South Bend Equality confirmed to Campus Reform that about 350-400 people attended the rally, #ProtestPenceSB, where protesters held up signs such as “Immigrants Get the Job Done,” and “I Stand With Planned Parenthood.”

While the walk-out was organized by students, and the anti-Pence protest was organized by local community members, the timing of both events were organized in conjunction with each other, the spokesperson for South Bend Equality confirmed to Campus Reform.

During his speech, Vice President Pence praised Notre Dame’s Catholic values.

“This university stands without apology for human freedom and the inherent dignity of every human person,” said Pence.

Pence also praised Notre Dame’s commitment to free speech and lamented that “free speech and civility are waning” at other colleges across America.

“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,” said Pence. “These all too common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge and they are wholly outside the American tradition.”

[RELATED: Students worry free speech will make U of M ‘an unsafe place’]

He also argued that the suppression of free speech on college campuses “jeopardizes the liberties” of the American people at large, saying, “This should not, and must not, be met with silence.”

Pence concluded by calling upon students to become leaders with integrity and stay true to their faith, predicting that “You will lead your family, your professions, and our country, to unimaginable heights.”

The press contacts for We Stand For Notre Dame did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Campus Reform.

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