posted at 5:01 pm on May 21, 2017 by John Sexton
A group of Notre Dame students walked out at the start of Vice President Pence’s commencement speech Sunday. The protest had been planned in advance so the walkout was not a surprise. What may have been a surprise was how few students actually decided to join the walkout. The group that organized the protest cited a news report saying 150 people walked out:
— We StaND For (@WeStandForND) May 21, 2017
However, if you read the story it says about half of the 150 were students and the other half were family members. That matches with what I see in this video shot from above.
I’d say that’s about 60-75 students, which is not a very significant turnout in a graduating class of 3,000. Here’s a ground level angle. Notice that once the walkout begins there is also some booing. It’s hard to tell who is being booed but it seems as if the majority of students are booing the protesters.
The Notre Dame protesters were far less disruptive than the ones who continually shouted throughout Secretary DeVos commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University a couple weeks ago. This was by design. Instructions posted by the organizers asked participants to exit “respectfully and quietly.”
— We StaND For (@WeStandForND) May 15, 2017
During his speech, which only lasted about 16 minutes, Pence spoke about the “waning” of freedom of speech on college campuses. “If the emanations of free speech were charted on a map like infrared heat signatures, one would hope that universities would be the hottest places, red and purple with dispute not dark blue and white, frozen into cant, orthodoxy, and intellectual stasis,” he said. Pence continued, “This university is a vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America.”
“Notre Dame is an exception, an island in a sea of conformity so far spared from the noxious wave that seems to be rushing over much of academia,” Pence said. He added, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration sanctioned political correctness—all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech.” Video of this segment of Pence’s speech via the Free Beacon: