More than 100 members of University of Notre Dame’s graduating class decided they would rather not sit through a commencement address made by Old Testament Cotton Ball Mike Pence, and who can blame them? That’s a terrible way to enter the Real World, even if the Real World is a legitimately terrible place to be these days.
The school typically invites the newly-inaugurated president to give the address, but decided against it after considering a widely-circulated petition signed by thousands of students and faculty pleading them to rethink the tradition this year. Just as well, since Trump is very busy whizzing around Saudi Arabia in a golf cart listening to Toby Keith. If he has a nice enough time, maybe he won’t come back!
Pence, though, was decidedly not the backup everyone was hoping for, despite being the former governor of Indiana, where the school is located. According to the Washington Post:
School officials knew of the student walkout plans and did not try to stop them. The students — more than 100 — walked quietly out, and there were some cheers and boos sounded, though only briefly. Paul Browne, vice president for public affairs and communications, said Notre Dame has been the site of protests of presidents and vice presidents in the past, and as long as the students did not disrupt the ceremony, it would be allowed to take place.
The group behind the walkout, We StaND For, released a statement explaining the motive behind the protest:
“During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities.
“All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.”
Students said afterward that they were very pleased with how the walkout unfolded, which ultimately included twice the number of expected participants.
Pence did not acknowledge the departing students, focusing instead on religious liberty, Trump’s Sunday morning speech in Saudi Arabia, and a few bits he seems to have lifted straight from an address he gave at Grove City College yesterday.
The protests were more subdued than those that took place during Betsy DeVos’s address earlier this month at Bethune-Cookman University, where she was booed heavily.