United States university students walk out of vice-president's speech


US Vice President Mike Pence gave a graduation speech at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday, but more than 100 students staged a walk-out protest against him.

It's a long-standing tradition for Notre Dame to invite a new president to speak at commencement, but this year thousands signed a petition asking the university not to invite Donald Trump.

Pence has a record as the former IN governor, and prior to that as an IN congressional representative, of social conservatism and opposition to abortion rights and LGBT rights.

In a statement, the group said they opposed Pence's positions on gay rights, his opposition to the Syrian refugee program, and the administration's crack down on sanctuary cities. The Facebook page for the event asked students and their parents "to walk out with us as we take back our graduation and show our dissatisfaction with the University's selection of Mike Pence as honored speaker". But while some universities have seen protests against controversial speakers erupt into violent confrontations, recent peaceful protests against Pence on college campuses poke holes in his claim that "free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America".

In a speech in Saudi Arabia, Trump called on Middle Eastern leaders to do their fair share to defeat Islamist extremists.

Bill Dimaro said he was proud of his graduating daughter, Cassandra, for taking part in the action.

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"We did it because we don't think he represents this university's values and this country's values", said graduate Patricia Fernandez. "It's not just policy but also rhetoric, all meant to keep women 'in their place, '" South Bend resident Heather Collins told the Tribune.

"Notre Dame is an exception, an island in a sea of conformity so far spared from the noxious wave that seems to be rushing over much of academia".

"Notre Dame is exceptional", Pence also said.

"These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge".

Conservatives protested against Mr Obama's commencement speech in 2009 because of his support of abortion rights and several non-student protesters were arrested for trespassing.