A photo campaign started by students at Notre Dame seeks to bring awareness to their dissatisfaction with Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the university’s upcoming commencement ceremony.
Seniors Immane Mondane and Jourdyhn Williams have encouraged fellow students to write an explanation on a white board for their objections to Pence as speaker. As examples, students could write a direct phrase attributed to Pence or just “why you feel unsafe with the presence of Mike Pence on our campus.”
Students are then asked to take a picture of themselves holding the sign with the hashtag #NotMyCommencementSpeaker. When they have enough pictures, the duo plan to share them en mass on social media to stir up a “discussion” about whether its appropriate for Pence to speak.
In recent history, four presidents have spoken at the commencement in their first year in office; Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Notre Dame republicans were eager to see President Trump himself invited to give the commencement speech, but students protested. Pence’s invitation was meant to be a compromise.
Pence is objected to primarily on the basis of his belief in heterosexual marriage and his aversion to abortion.
“I feel that is offensive to such a large population here at Notre Dame, and I also believe it goes against certain Catholic Social Teaching, which is something the University likes to broadcast that it stands behind, but it picks and chooses when it wants to stand behind them,” Williams said.
“It makes them feel unsafe to have someone who openly is offensive but also demeaning of their humanity and of their life and of their identity.” said Mondane in an interview with The Observer.
There is no explanation given for why Pence’s opinions makes them feel fear.
The two students aren’t the only group on campus who disagree with Pence’s invitation. The Notre Dame College Democrats and the Diversity Council have both released statements complaining about the invitation, while The Senior Class Council downplays his impact.
“This weekend is ultimately a celebration of our accomplishments, and we are proud to be a part of this class,” their statement said. “We hope that in spite of the diverse political beliefs among our class, our graduation weekend will be an opportunity to spend quality time with our friends and family as we say goodbye to the place that we have grown to love.”
Notre Dame students protesting VP Pence as this year’s commencement speaker because it makes them “feel unsafe” pic.twitter.com/W7mJoFp6dV
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) April 12, 2017
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