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Students To Walk Out During Pence Graduation Speech

When Vice President Mike Pence delivers a graduation speech at Notre Dame's May 21 ceremony, a number of students are expected to stand up and leave in protest.

Pence is scheduled to be the last speaker at the event, but the soon-to-be graduates of the prestigious Catholic university will miss the tassel-turning that symbolizes their commencement, reports WGN-TV. They will have their own separate ceremony instead.

"This is not just about the numbers, but about standing up for truth," said one of the walkout's co-organizers, Luis Miranda, according to WGN-TV. "We feel that there is power in truth and hopefully there will be power in numbers that come stand up with us."

We Stand For, the student activist group that planned the protest, said that the former Indiana governor and his policies attack marginalized people.

Miranda said that he has undocumented immigrants in his family and feels that President Donald Trump's administration has unfairly targeted them.

"They are going to be in the audience in one of the most important moments of my life with someone targeting them for who they are," he said, adding that he was going to follow the Catholic value of standing up for marginalized people.

As of the afternoon of May 19, more than 100 people indicated on the Facebook event page that they would attend, while more than 300 people marked that they were interested.

"We invite all students, faculty, and families who will be attending the Commencement ceremony 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," reads the event description. "We also will walk out in dignity and solidarity with all marginalized people affected by Pence's politics, both on this campus and throughout our nation."

Notre Dame officials are "not concerned" about the protest, particularly since organizers worked with police and school staff to coordinate it, said university spokesperson Paul Browne, according to WGN-TV.

"We think they will be respectful in the way they express their differences with the administration," added Browne.

Pence will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. He is the first vice president to speak at the school's commencement, though he will join six former presidents who had the honor, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

"It is fitting that in the 175th year of our founding on Indiana soil that Notre Dame recognize a native son who served our state and now the nation with quiet earnestness, moral conviction and a dedication to the common good characteristic of true statesmen," Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a statement.

Sources: WGN-TV, WalkoutND Commencement Action/Facebook / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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