Students to walk out during Mike Pence's speech at honorary degree ceremony

Activists say Vice President's presence is 'an insult to all minority, queer, and marginalised peoples on campus'

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The Independent US

Students at a prestigious US university are to stage a walkout when Vice President Mike Pence gives a commencement speech.

A Notre Dame activist coalition called We StaND For is calling on students to “sit with a friend in your college” and, when Mr Pence begins to talk, to “stand up and walk out at once…respectfully and quietly exit the stadium”.

The Vice President, who served as governor of Indiana for four years, will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony on Sunday.

The reason for the walkout, penned in an open letter by the coalition, is the policies he has supported before and after Donald Trump's election. 

“[Mr Pence has] targeted the civil rights protections of members of LGBT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities," it reads.

“All of these policies have marginalised our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin colour or sexual orientation”.

Luis Miranda, an organiser, said: “At Notre Dame, we cherish the values for which Catholic social teaching stands and we cannot stand still when an injustice is being done”. 

 “It is difficult to know that fighting for meaningful criminal justice reform will be even harder with this administration," another student added.

Another criticised the decision by the Catholic university, saying: “Through this choice of commencement speaker, Notre Dame has decided to not support our Daca, undocumented and first generation students.” 

The walkout, which also has a Facebook event, will be live tweeted under the #WalkoutND hashtag.

Paul Browne, a spokesperson for the university told WGN9 that they are “not concerned”, and believe that the students will express their “differences” with the administration respectfully.

According to the university, Mr Pence will be the first vice president to deliver a commencement speech. 

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