May 21, 2017
Dozens of Notre Dame graduates walked out of their own commencement ceremony Sunday when Vice President Mike Pence took to the podium as the day’s keynote speaker.
Footage of the historically Catholic university’s commencement have circulated online and reveal a noticeable portion of the graduating class departing as Pence discussed his views of college campuses acting as safe spaces.
“This university is a vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America. Notre Dame is a campus where deliberation is 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,” Pence said in his address.
“Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness, all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech.”
Despite using rhetoric over free speech in his address, students say they protested specifically because they found the administration silencing of marginalized groups.
A student at Notre Dame defended the walkout during an interview with CNN, saying, “Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are. If you are trying to silence and not listen to the preferences of one group, and their families, then you’re not listening to any of us.”