Notre Dame grads walk out during Mike Pence’s commencement speech
Approximately 100 graduating Notre Dame students walked out of their commencement on Sunday as a staged protest against their commencement speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.
According to IndyStar, a group of students led by former student body president Bryan Ricketts had planned the protest since Pence was first announced as commencement speaker back in March. Police had been made aware of the protest. A video posted by NBC South Bend affiliate WNDU — which you can watch below — shows the students leaving Notre Dame Stadium to a mix of cheers and boos as Pence began his speech.
Click through reactions to the protest here:
Back in 2009, Obama's commencement speech was also met with opposition, as conservative anti-abortion groups protested against Obama's pro-choice stance. Some protesters were arrested for trespassing after marching onto the campus. Ricketts told IndyStar that those protests played a factor into how they organized their walkout.
'"I think people are upset we're protesting at all," he said. "But I have to say, it's important for people to be able to speak their minds. Protests during Obama's commencement ruined graduation weekend for some people and we want to be respectful of everybody who is attending the weekend."
The ND students' protest was noticeably less rowdy than the one Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced while delivering the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University last week. DeVos' speech was drowned out by boos from the students of the historically black university, many of whom turned their backs to the podium.
Sitting U.S. presidents have spoken several times at Notre Dame commencements during their first year in office, including George W. Bush in 2001 and Barack Obama in 2009. This year, Notre Dame decided to invite Mike Pence instead of Donald Trump, as Pence had been raised Catholic and was the governor of Indiana prior to joining Trump's run to the White House.