It may be time for Vice President Mike Pence to stop showing up where he isn’t wanted. If being called out by the cast of Hamilton was bad enough, he recently joined the ranks of politicians being booed and ignored while delivering commencements for college graduates.
While Pence was delivering the commencement at the University of Notre Dame and receiving an honorary degree, dozens of graduates stood up and walked out of the ceremony.
— Summer Ratcliff (@SummerRatcliff) May 21, 2017
The protest received a mixed reaction from the crowd in attendance. As the group silently made its way outside, a combination of cheers and jeers could be heard coming from the crowd. This is likely an extension of the perception of Pence in his native Indiana, where he was both a congressman and governor before joining President Donald Trump as a running mate.
The decision to walk out of the ceremony was first put in place weeks before it actually happened. The New York Times reports an on-campus organization called We Stand for ND started planning it after Pence was announced as the speaker.
— We StaND For (@WeStandForND) May 21, 2017
“Of course we welcome and support free speech on campus,” said Luis Miranda, a protestor who said the students were taking a stand against Pence’s long history. “But commencement is not a moment for academic exchange or political dialogue. It’s a celebration of all of our hard work.”
Going back as fas as his time in Congress, Pence has a record for making life difficult for undocumented citizens, members of the LGBTQ community and refugees.
“I have family who are directly being affected by his policies, so I felt like I needed to stand up,” Miranda said. “And I think that’s what we all felt.”
Ironically, a part of Pence’s speech focused on what right-wing pundits consider to be a problem with political-correctness.
“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, 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,” he said. “These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge, and they are wholly outside the America tradition.”
Pence’s sentiments and rhetoric are carried over from the controversy surrounding the University of California-Berkeley after “alt-right” and pro-Trump speakers faced pushback for scheduled speaking engagements.
The students who protested Pence’s speech should be applauded for standing up against their university’s decision to support oppression and the mistreatment of marginalized peoples. It’s odd that one of the most prominent Catholic universities in the country would do such a thing. [Or is it?]