Students walk out of Notre Dame graduation, protesting Vice President
All eyes were on Michiana, as the University of Notre Dame celebrated their 172nd graduating class with a familiar speaker who some opposed.
Vice President, and Indiana native, Mike Pence spoke to ND grads Sunday, amidst protests and walkouts.
It was a politically charged graduation ceremony: from the opinionated Valedictorian speech, to Vice President Pence, to student-led actions. All of it stemming from the controversial choice of having the Vice President at the ceremony.
It's a day students will remember. the day they graduated from college, and heard the Vice President address their graduating class.
Pence praised the values of Notre Dame, while highlighting the administration's efforts to craft change in the country.
"This university stands without apology for human freedom and with the inherent dignity of every human person," he said. "In these matters, you have an ally in our still new administration."
One by one, Pence listed President Trump's actions that he felt coincided with both the mission of his presidency and the university.
But the Vice President also laid down his own vision during his nearly 15 minute speech.
"This university is a vanguard for freedom of expression and a free exchange of ideas in a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America," Pence said. "Many campuses have been characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing and administration approved political correctness."
Pence also acknowledged the fact that he was unwelcome by some at the university.
"Notre Dame is a campus where deliberations are welcomed. Where opposing views are debated and where every speaker, no matter how unpopular or unfashionable, is afforded the right to air their views in the open for all to hear," he said.
Pence was addressing the approximately 80 students who walked out of their own graduation to protest the Vice President.
The majority of the class, and their guests, remained in their seats as he took the podium.
A loud booing was heard as those students left the stadium.
While some disagreed with Pence's politics, they did not agree with those who chose to leave.
"I decided to stay because, something else I learned at Notre Dame, is if we're going to move forward, we have to e able to listen to both sides of the aisle," said Notre Dame graduate Jessica Murdes.
And even though Pence acknowledged it continues to be a divided world, his advice to students: to stay true to the values learned at the university and to use them to improve the nation.
"Intolerance and suppression of the time honored tradition of free expression on our campuses, jeopardizes the liberties of every American," Pence said. "This should not, and must not, be met with silence."