Last Sunday, a video went viral during Mike Pence’s commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana but it didn’t center on the U.S. Vice President speaking, but on the large group of about 150 graduates walking out during his address.
Although it might seem like a spur-of-the-moment effort against the VP, the walkout was actually organized by students in the weeks beforehand. Once graduates found out that Pence would be the speaker at their ceremony, a group of students planned out the moment carefully while answering whatever questions any concerned students might have.
One of the students, Xitalaly Estrada, was one of the main organizers of the walkout as president of the Latino Student Alliance on the university’s campus.
“Initially when the invite went out, we were all a little more than hesitant to attend, especially because this administration has been denigrating people of color and minority groups,” the 21-year-old told mitú.
Her family, who both speak little of English, did not attend the ceremony but opted to attend other graduation events as requested by Estrada. “My parents are immigrants and they’re in constant state of discomfort,” she said. “I don’t think my parents have ever felt comfortable in this country.”
The graduate, who studied Political Science and Latino Studies, wanted to represent her family in the decision she made to spearhead the walkout. She added, “My biggest concern was that this day, that was supposed to be for my family and their sacrifices that led me to be able to graduate from the University of Notre Dame, would be overshadowed by someone who has openly endorsed their denigration and has corroborated their marginalization as an immigrant group, as Mexicans, as, at one point, people who worked in the fields, as people who work in the service sector, and they would have to hear that person speak at my commencement.”
Latinos weren’t the only ones to walk out during the commencement; LGBTQ and other minority groups took part in the movement.