More than 100 students participated in the planned protest, which was aimed at showing the student’s discontent with the Trump administration’s polices on LGBT rights and people of color, the student group We StaND wrote in a statement ahead of the ceremony.
Notre Dame, a predominately Catholic university, is located in South Bend, Ind. — the state where Pence served as governor prior to becoming vice president.
“During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of the LGBT community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities,” the students wrote in a statement. “All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.”
Before this year’s ceremony, more than 1,700 Notre Dame alums signed a letter condemning the university’s speaker selection.
Notre Dame traditionally selects the new president for its commencement ceremony, but instead chose the vice president over President Donald Trump this year. Former President Barack Obama gave Notre Dame’s commencement address in May 2009 — months after his first inauguration.
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But Obama’s selection also sparked backlash from students. Some conservative students criticized it because Obama was a pro-choice politician. Students opposing the former president participated in an alternative ceremony, according to CBS News.
The Notre Dame protest comes after Bethune-Cookman University students booed, chanted and turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her commencement address at their ceremony earlier this month. Like Pence’s selection at Notre Dame, students at the historically black college criticized its administration’s pick of DeVos ahead of the ceremony.