Students at the Catholic University of Notre Dame are planning to stand up and walk out when Vice President Mike Pence begins his commencement speech during their graduation this Sunday.
The protest is being organized by student activist group “We StaND for” in protest of Pence’s policies and their school’s gift of an honorary degree to the vice president. Specifically, they are walking out because Pence has “targeted the civil rights protections of members of (the) LGBT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities.”
The students also invoked the contrasts between Pence’s policies and the teachings of Pope Francis.
— We StaND For (@WeStandForND) May 16, 2017
Co-organizer Luis Miranda told CNN, “This is not just about the numbers, but about standing up for truth. We feel that there is power in truth and hopefully there will be power in numbers that come stand up with us.”
President Obama delivered the commencement address at Notre Dame in 2009 (as had George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Dwight Eisenhower before him), but the University invited Pence instead of Donald Trump in the hopes of avoiding a “circus,” as the university’s president put it.
University President Father John Jenkins spoke out against Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries when it was first signed in January, saying the “Executive Order halts the work of valued students and colleagues who have already passed a rigorous, post-9/11 review process, are vouched for by the university and have contributed so much to our campuses.”
The protest’s Facebook event notes that “Pence is the last speaker, so, yes, you will get to hear Greg Boyle, the valedictorian, and everything but Pence, Jenkins’ final words, and the tassel-turn, but we’re going to have our own (cough it’s better)!”
— We StaND For (@WeStandForND) May 15, 2017
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW