Dozens of graduates and family members—about 150 of them, per one report—silently stood and walked out Sunday as Vice President Pence began his address at Notre Dame's commencement ceremony. Pence, the former governor of Indiana, was invited to speak after Notre Dame students and faculty protested the prospect of President Trump being invited to become the seventh US president to give the commencement address. Pence spoke briefly of Trump during his 15-minute speech, praising his speech to the leaders of 50 Arab and Muslim nations earlier in the day in Saudi Arabia. Pence said the president "spoke out against religious persecution of all people of all faiths," reports the AP.
Earlier in the ceremony, valedictorian Caleb Joshua Pine urged a "stand against the scapegoating of Muslims" and criticized Trump's push to build a wall along the Mexican border. Cassandra Dimaro and her parents were among those who walked out. Dimaro told the South Bend Tribune that it was a show of solidarity "for those of us impacted by the policies of the Trump administration." Pence didn't comment on the walkout, which was expected, but he did deride the concept of "safe spaces" at America's colleges and added: "This university (Notre Dame) is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America." Pence wasn't the only VP to give a commencement speech this weekend. (Read more Mike Pence stories.)