Pence, not Trump, to deliver ND Commencement address

Mike Pence will be the first U.S. vice president to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, which traditionally invites the president during his first year in office.

“It is fitting that in the 175th year of our founding on Indiana 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 told Notre Dame News.

Kevin Burke, secretary of the ND College Republicans, was pleasantly surprised to learn of Pence’s plans to give the commencement speech.

“We found out when the news broke on Twitter. We did not receive any advance notice. I was actually in a US Foreign policy class when I saw it pop up on my feed,” Burke told Campus Reform.

“The Notre Dame College Republicans are very proud to have Notre Dame host Vice President Mike Pence as this year's commencement speaker,” the group said in a statement to Campus Reform. “Vice President Pence has a proven track record of Conservative principles and has staunchly defended Christian values during his time in public office.”

[RELATED: ND College Republicans ‘support’ Trump, but refuse to ‘endorse’]

“We were honored to host him on campus during his time as Governor of Indiana,” College Republicans told Campus Reform, “and now we are excited for him to return as the Vice President of the United States to deliver the keynote speech at this year's commencement ceremony.”

The selection process was nonetheless contentious, with preemptive petitions and protests demanding that the university withhold its traditional invitation from Donald Trump.

The ND College Democrats, for instance, announced in a Facebook post Monday morning that they would be demonstrating that afternoon “in protest of the University’s invitation for President Donald Trump to serve as the 2017 Commencement speaker,” inviting students to join them in demanding that Jenkins “disinvite President Trump as our Commencement speaker!”

According to The Observer, however, ND has not actually extended an invitation for Trump to speak at Commencement. The school did invite Trump to campus last year, along with every other Democrat and Republican candidate in the presidential primaries, but neither he nor any of the other candidates accepted, and a separate invitation would be necessary for the Commencement ceremony.

College Democrats co-president Andrew Galo told The Observer that the protest was intended to build on a petition drafted by College Democrats and the Diversity Council in December making the same demand, which has attracted more than 3,000 signatures.

[RELATED: Notre shame: ND may break tradition by not inviting Trump]

“The protests by the College Democrats are not unexpected. Since November, Democrats are in total denial that the American people lost faith in their vision for the country,” Burke told Campus Reform. “The American people have spoken and they have clearly stated that they feel that the Republican vision for the country is a vast improvement over the ideology of the Democratic Party, as the American people put Republicans in the White House and both Houses of Congress.”

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