Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday delivered a call for leadership to the University of Notre Dame's newest graduates, urging them "to be men and women of integrity and values" and to stand up against the suppression of free speech.
US Vice President Mike Pence got a frosty welcome at a graduation ceremony in his home state of Indiana on Sunday, when dozens of students walked out in protest against what they called his discriminatory policies.
The protesters, among thousands of graduates, faculty and guests gathered in the University of Notre Dame’s football stadium, stood up when the Republican began his commencement speech and streamed out of the ceremony, to the jeers of some of those who remained.
On its website, the prestigious Catholic university said about 100 students left during Pence’s speech. The walkout’s Facebook page put the number at 147 people.
As many as 100 people exited, according to the organisers. Some had on them banners or rainbow pins and flags in support of the LGBT community. Some rainbow flags were also seen hanging from windows around the campus, NYT reported.
One of the leading Catholic universities in the US, Notre Dame is located in the city of South Bend, Indiana.
Protesters at Notre Dame said they wanted to object to Pence’s role as vice president as well as his record as the former governor of Indiana, saying his policies hurt immigrants as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Several of the students carried messages of protest on their traditional graduation caps. One of them displayed an inverted U.S. flag, a sign of protest popularized during the Vietnam War era, and the words “Are we great again yet?,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.
A statement by the student group WeStandForND, the organisers of the protest, said:
“The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the university’s community,”