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Notre Dame students plan walkout during Pence speech
19 May 2017, 10:43 | Gladys Abbott
A University of Notre Dame student says he and some others plan to protest Vice President Mike Pence's Sunday commencement address at the school by walking out on the speech.
An activist group at the IN university said they are planning the demonstration to show solidarity with LGBTQ, undocumented, low-income, and female students-all targets of the Trump administration's regressive policies. That tweet can be seen below.
Luis Miranda, a co-organizer of the walkout, said Pence, as IN governor and as vice president, targeted vulnerable people with his policies.
"They know we intend to express our disagreement in a way that is respectful but we also want a commencement that respects us", Ricketts added of Notre Dame's administrative response.
Six presidents from both sides of the aisle have given commencement speeches at Notre Dame, including Barack Obama in 2009 and George W. Bush in 2001.
Commencement weekend starts Friday with a mass planned for the evening.
Some students will be protesting Pence's policies as Indiana's governor, including the 2015 religious-objections law he signed that critics maintained sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.
According to a Facebook event for the walkout, students are encouraged to stand up as soon as Pence begins talking, walk away from him "quietly but deliberately" toward the nearest exit, and join a group outside where they will have a "celebration and tassel turn".
Local protesters, led by We Go High! of St. Joseph County, Michiana Alliance for Democracy, South Bend Equality and Planned Parenthood Community Action Partners of Northwestern Indiana, plan to gather outside the main gates at Notre Dame Avenue and Angela Boulevard at 9:30 a.m.
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A professor of women's and gender studies at Indiana University South Bend, Lidinsky rejects Pence's views on women's health and reproductive health, including his commitment to defund Planned Parenthood and his strict stance on abortion, which "counters sound medical decisions that women make with their doctors".
Mary Ellen Hegedus is an organizer with We Go High! of St. Joseph County, a grassroots citizens group committed to strengthening and promoting the "inalienable rights" of all Americans, especially marginalized groups such as immigrants.
"Vice President Pence has a right to speak anywhere he's invited, it's not a question of any of that", said Hegedus.
The university is not particularly anxious about the protest.
"This is not just about the numbers, but about standing up for truth", Miranda said.
"I think that with the protests coming out, there has been this sort of perception that Notre Dame doesn't want Vice President Pence here speaking at Commencement", he said.
Organizers expect a peaceful demonstration.
With that in mind, protesters here have been instructed to stay on public property and off campus to avoid arrest and out of respect for the graduates and their families.
South Bend Equality shared the view that Pence's selection was wrong and said in an email statement it ought to be protested.
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