ND students walk out on graduation; protestors rally off campus
As students protested Vice President Pence by walking out of the stadium, their supporters rallied right off campus in solidarity.
About 100 students walked out on Vice President Pence’s speech at Sunday’s commencement ceremony, to boos inside but cheers and applause outside.
Organizers said this was the best way they felt they could celebrate four years of hard work and uphold the values they learned at Notre Dame.
“To me walking out represented an action that I could take as a small individual that shows my resistance to a lot of the policies or the rhetoric being promoted,” said one Notre Dame graduate, as of today, Xitaly Estrada.
“We don’t’ agree that someone like Mike Pence, who we believe goes against everything that Notre Dame stands for, even our mission statement, was appropriate for this commencement speech,” said a fellow recent graduate who walked out, Riwan Pelissier.
“At the very heart of it, it’s about celebrating all kinds of people, the people who are here, the people who are in the stadium. It’s about celebrating the graduation, and Notre Dame is a diverse place made up of all different people from all different backgrounds,” said one of the walkout organizers, Bryan Ricketts.
“Fight for what’s right,” said Bernadette Mirmontes, who walked out as well.
While the Notre Dame students who walked out turned over their tassels outside the ceremony, their supporters protested Pence on the corner of campus.
“I think it’s important to put your face out there, because if we don’t do that, if enough of us don’t do that, people believe that it’s all okay, so I think that we need to put ourselves out there,” said Carol Dillon, who lives right down the road from Notre Dame.
“It means that people who are put in positions that are disenfranchised won’t shut up, and we don’t want to shut up. Hope will never be silent,” said IUSB student, Sebastian Martinez.
Pence protestors came out from all over the country.
‘Mike Hot-Pence’ flew from Times Square to South Bend to join in.
“Standing with the students of Notre Dame who are protesting Mike Pence and his abysmal record on LGBT rights, and I thought, I felt so strongly about it that oh I’m just going to hop on a plane and join them there. Here I am,” said Mike Hot-Pence.
The ‘Friends Who March’ group journeyed from Chicago dressed as handmaids.
“If Mike Pence gets his way, this is what our world will be like, where women are just going to be used to reproduce and not have a choice what they do with their bodies,” said one of those marchers, Jax West.
We even spotted a wiener dog wearing a t-shirt that said, “Pence is a wiener.”
“I think we in Indiana know what Pence can do, and the rest of the country better watch out,” said Lorri Wright, who lives in South Bend.
Protestors in pink hats and graduation caps all seemed to agree that Sunday’s protests were about unity on graduation day.