We spoke to one of the students organizing the walkout at Mike Pence’s commencement speech

‘We’re going to stand up for the vulnerable, for the poor, for the marginalized’

Students will stage a walkout of Mike Pence’s commencement speech at Notre Dame this weekend.

When the Vice-President takes the stage to deliver the address for the Class of 2017, upwards of 100 students have already agreed to stand up and walk out in protest.

Speaking to The Tab, Luis Miranda – a graduating student and one of the walkout’s organizers – explained the protest was created “to stand up in solidarity with our marginalized classmates.”

VP Mike Pence

“It hit us that Mike Pence was coming, that it was happening,” he said. “There’s a sense of injustice that comes along with that. We have so many diverse people on our campus. I have classmates and friends from communities who have been directly targeted by Mike Pence. As governor of Indiana, he has targeted people from the LGBT+ community, he’s fought against sanctuary cities. We could go on and on.”

Luis, who is about to graduate with a Master’s in Peace Studies, said he expects anywhere from 50 to 100, “maybe even 500” students to take part.

“But we’re not doing this for the numbers and we’re not doing it because we think we can change Mike Pence,” he explained. “We’re doing this because at this university, we’ve learned about human dignity as part of the Catholic teaching we received – we’re going to stand up for the vulnerable, for the poor, for the marginalized.”

He added that some of his “fellow conservative brothers and sisters” have voiced their opposition, and claimed his protest is setting out to shut down free speech.

“We support free speech,” he responded. “There’s a place at university for Mike Pence to come and speak. But this is our commencement, a celebration, not a place for free exchange of ideas. This is not really about free speech – we really support that.”

“Some people say it’s disrespectful,” he added. “To that, I would say sure, but can you image how unwelcome some students feel? Some students here are under DACA – in my own case my family couldn’t fly to my graduation because they’re undocumented. They’re terrified about being detained and deported. People who are LGBT+ have been willfully targeted by Mike Pence. If it’s a question of welcoming, who’s going to really feel welcome?”

Stay tuned for Sunday around 11am.