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Notre Dame students plan walkout during Pence speech

19 May 2017

A student activist group at the University of Notre Dame says it plans on staging a walkout of Vice President Pence's commencement speech this Sunday.

Bryan Ricketts, one of the student organizers, told ThinkProgress that the university has been supportive of the group's plans.

Students plan to stand up when Pence begins speaking and quietly leave the ceremony.

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We StaND For is comprised of Notre Dame seniors, ThinkProgress reported, and protesters are using the hashtag #WalkOutND to hype the event on social media.

Some students will be protesting Pence's policies as Indiana's governor, including the 2015 religious-objections law he signed that critics maintained sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. "All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation". The Washington Times wrote, "Members of the "The Fighting Irish's' class of 2017 are frightened by Mr. Pence and have started a '#NotMyCommencementSpeaker' campaign against his May 21 address".

An activist group at the IN university said they are planning the demonstration to show solidarity with LGBTQ, undocumented, low-income, and female students-all targets of the Trump administration's regressive policies.

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Ricketts also said the university administration has not resisted their protest. "We want to make it a graduation that's respectful of the students". In response, Notre Dame President the Rev. John I. Jenkins issued a statement urging Americans to welcome Syrian refugees, noting they were being forced to flee their homeland because of unending violence.

Other local groups are also expected to protest Pence's visit.

Demonstrators from We Go High! of St. Joseph County, Michiana Alliance for Democracy, South Bend Equality, and Planned Parenthood Community Action Partners of Northwestern Indiana are among those aiming to show solidarity with the graduates.

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Notre Dame students plan walkout during Pence speech