Friday, 06 December, 2019

Pence delivers commencement address at Grove College

Richard B. Levine  Levine Roberts  Newscom via ZUMA Richard B. Levine Levine Roberts Newscom via ZUMA
Kelley Robertson | 21 May, 2017, 01:45

The March 2 announcement of Pence as the Commencement speaker was met with mixed reactions across campus, with students and community members both coming to Pence's defense and protesting against what they consider to be his record of exclusionary policies.

"I'm really horrified about what's going on right now and I really hope that well have a complete investigation, and I have confidence that now we'll finally get to the bottom of some of these allegations", said a Grove City Alumni.

Paul Browne, a spokesperson for Notre Dame, told CNN that administrators are "not concerned" about the walkout.

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, local protesters plan to gather outside the main gates at Notre Dame Avenue and Angela Boulevard at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, just after the start of commencement.

There are a number of other protests of Pence being organized for Sunday.

"April Lidinsky of the Planned Parenthood group (she's also a professor at Indiana University South Bend in Women's & Gender Studies - surprise that), says the rally will be an "'unwelcome home' celebration for the former governor".

As of Thursday afternoon, about 75 people had signed up to participate in the walkout.

"We welcome anyone who wants to walk out with us", said Bryan Ricketts, a 2017 graduate and an organizer of the effort.

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"I think that's part of the problem we're dealing with now: people living in bubbles and don't want listen to people that don't agree with them", said Burke, a rising senior.

Among Hegedus' issues with the vice president: His support for a controversial religious liberty bill and his attempt to ban Syrian refugees from the state as governor.

"The participation and degree-conferring of VP Pence stand as an endorsement of policies and actions which directly contradict Catholic social teachings and values and target vulnerable members of the University's community", Xitlaly Estrada, a Notre Dame undergraduate, said in a release from We StaND For.

Kevin Burke, secretary for the Notre Dame College Republicans, said students have a right to walk out, although he contends insularity begets a misinformed culture.

"Vice President Pence has a right to speak anywhere he's invited, it's not a question of any of that", said Hegedus.

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.

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