About 100 of Notre Dame's 3,171 graduates walked out of their graduation ceremony on Sunday (May 21st) as Vice President Mike Pence began his commitment address. The students, who didn't shout or cause any disruption, but were booed by some in the crowd, walked out in protest of some of Pence's policy positions, particularly his opposition to gay rights, his attempts as Indiana governor to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in the state, his support of President Trump's travel ban, and his opposition to "sanctuary cities" for illegal immigrants.
The university and campus police were made aware that the protest was going to happen, which began to be organized after Pence was announced as the graduation speaker in March. Pence didn't acknowledge the walkout, but spent part of his speech talking about the tradition of free expression on college campuses, contending that it's being challenged and commending Notre Dame for upholding it. Conservatives charge that the right of conservative students to express their views on college campuses is under fire across the country.
Pence said that, quote, "free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America," saying there are "safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness, all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech." He declared, "The increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American. This should not and must not be met with silence."