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WASHINGTON - Some Notre Dame University students are planning a less-than-happy homecoming for Vice President Mike Pence when the former Indiana governor delivers the school's commencement speech Sunday in South Bend.
Notre Dame students plan to walk out on Pence commencement speech
Some graduates plan to walk out as he receives an honorary degree. Others will protest right outside the stadium where the graduation ceremony will be held and are inviting people to join.
Organizers say their actions are fueled largely by Pence's stances against immigration and gay rights.
The group cited the vice president's opposition to gay rights, his attempts as governor to stop Syrian refugees from entering the state, his backing of President Trump's travel ban on immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, and his opposition to sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws.
Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne told CNN the university won’t attempt to stop the students from walking out, noting that organizers reached out to police and administrators ahead of time to plan the quiet proceedings.
"We're not concerned," Browne said. "We think they will be respectful in the way they express their differences with the administration."
Some students will be protesting Pence’s policies as Indiana governor, including the religious objections bill Pence signed into law in 2015. Critics claimed it sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.
It's not the first time Notre Dame has been at the center of a political storm.
In 2009, conservatives protested President Obama's speech because they disapproved of his support of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research. And President Reagan faced some antagonism when he spoke there in 1981 in his first speech after his attempted assassination.
The vice president gave the commencement address Saturday at Grove City College near Pittsburgh where he told graduates "the most important job that I will ever hold is husband and father to three wonderful kids."
Pence isn't the only Trump administration figure to face protest at commencement this year.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVoss was booed when she addressed graduates at Bethune Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fl. on May 10.