Pence, Notre Dame, and Respecting Speakers You Disagree With

Why not put into practice the civility and tolerance that will be expected in society?

Ixtlaly Estrada makes remarks after Notre Dame students walked out of the commencement ceremony in opposition opposed to the Trump administration's policies, as Vice President Mike Pence was introduced at Notre Dame Stadium on Sunday, May 21, 2017, in South Bend, Ind.

By Alex Chediak Published on May 23, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence gave the Commencement address at Notre Dame this past Sunday in his home state of Indiana. He praised Notre Dame as a “vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas.” But the Vice-President criticized the political correctness that has become common elsewhere.

Ironically, a group of graduates took the opportunity to walk out during the Vice-President’s speech. This was a planned demonstration on the part of 50-100 students, less than 5 percent of the 2,100 graduates gathered.

Some demonstrators had the rainbow colors associated with gay rights advocacy draped around their necks. One said she hoped the protest would “send a message” to the Notre Dame administration that someone “more inclusive” would have been preferred. Aside from his current role, when Mr. Pence was governor of Indiana, he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Critics claimed this Act would have violated the civil rights of the gay community. The Act was soon amended.

Honor the University, Respect the Invited Speaker

The Notre Dame students are entitled to disagree with Pence. To their credit, they walked out silently and respectfully. But boycotting the Vice President’s address makes little sense. As University President John I. Jenkins said in his introduction to Pence, “political leaders are necessary for society, and we must strive with them to serve the common good.” That was also true in 2009 when President Jenkins and his staff invited the new President Barack Obama to give the commencement address.

No matter the speaker, the respectful thing to do is to honor the university and the speaker by remaining in your seat.

If Pence has supported policies that are unpopular with some Notre Dame constituents, that was certainly true of President Obama as well. I don’t recall if Notre Dame students walked out on President Obama in 2009. But if they did, they were wrong to do so.

Sitting respectfully while an invited guest addresses you — even a guest you dislike or disagree with — is something expected of adults. It’s something I’ve done many times, both as a student at liberal bastion U.C. Berkeley and in more recent years.

All of the Notre Dame faculty were presumably required to attend commencement in 2009 and 2017. No doubt some of them did not vote for either the Obama-Biden or Trump-Pence tickets. On commencement day, it doesn’t matter. The distinguished speaker chosen by the university (their employer) is addressing the audience. The respectful thing to do is to honor the university and the speaker by remaining in your seat.

I understand that students tend to view themselves as paying customers. And the customer is always right. But after graduation, they are students no longer. Why not take that last day to put into practice the civility and tolerance that will be expected of them in society?

 

Dr. Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a professor at California Baptist University and the author of Thriving at College (Tyndale House, 2011), a roadmap for how students can best navigate the challenges of their college years. His latest book is Beating the College Debt Trap. Learn more about him at www.alexchediak.com or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

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  • Christian Cowboy

    You are expecting university graduates to be adults, from some of my personal experience this is not always the case.

  • Timothy Horton

    Funny how the religious conservatives here are all in favor of free speech, unless it’s free speech that goes against their political position. Then the free speech is childish and disrespectful.

    These people couldn’t be bigger hypocrites if hey tried.

    • Shaquille Harvey

      How many colleges have liberal students protested, have had riots to block conservative or republican speakers ?

      How have happened the other way ?

      • GPS Daddy

        Our culture has accepted the view that being a victim justifies your behavior. So if this is a presupposition that is being made then their violence (be it in action or words) is justified and is really the other guys fault.

    • Bryan

      Tim, the same could be said of the students at Middlebury College or UC Berkeley in place of “religious conservatives”.
      The students at Notre Dame were within their rights to walk out of the commencement because they didn’t like the speaker. However, as the author stated, that doesn’t make what they did right.
      Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. For instance, I have the right to vote as a citizen of the USA. And as a citizen of the USA, I have the responsibility to be an informed voter and to vote based on my conscience. If I do not take steps to inform myself of the positions of each candidate then I’m not acting on my right faithfully.
      The same is true in this case, the students are certainly free to walk out, however, respect and protocol generally dictate giving the appearance of listening to a speaker during commencement even if one disagrees with the speaker on certain points or on what the speaker is saying. This can change if what the speaker is saying, his or her speech, is rude or grossly inappropriate. However, this was not the case here.

      • Timothy Horton

        If I do not take steps to inform myself of the positions of each candidate then I’m not acting on my right faithfully.

        Where is your evidence the students who protested weren’t fully informed of Pence’s positions already and that they protested his presence because of other reasons besides those policies?

        • Shaquille Harvey

          What anti civil rights policies ?

          • Timothy Horton

            Pence has quite open about his anti-LGBT rights agenda.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            And what rights will those be ?
            What makes that in the list, rights ?

          • Timothy Horton

            The same rights hetero couples have.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            What will those be ?
            And again why are those rights unalienable and absolute ?

          • Timothy Horton

            The same rights hetero couples have.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            You reapeted yourself again and did not answer my questions!

            What will those be ?
            And again why are those rights unalienable and absolute ?

            Also why is pence wrong for not supporting these rights ?

          • Timothy Horton

            The same rights hetero couples have.

            Read slowly, follow with your finger if it helps.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            Thanks Tim I did, but maybe you can do the same with mine ?

            What will those be ?
            And again why are those rights unalienable and absolute ?

            Also why is pence wrong for not supporting these rights ?

          • Timothy Horton

            The same rights hetero couples have.

            Still reading too fast. Try one word at a time.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            What will those be ?
            And again why are those rights unalienable and absolute ?

            Also why is pence wrong for not supporting these rights ?

            Again, do the same !

          • Christian Cowboy

            You are wasting your time.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            I know,
            I keep asking him questions, on various subjects, issues and on what he believes, and he still has not answered just about any of them

          • GPS Daddy

            My experience as well.

          • Timothy Horton

            Not my problem some people are too stupid to know when their question has been adequately addressed.

          • Shaquille Harvey

            How has it been adequately addressed or any of my questions tim ?

        • Bryan

          Tim, I have no doubt that if the citizens attending Notre Dame voted, they were as informed as they desired to be. However who these graduates voted for is not the issue.
          The article and your response, dealt with free speech. Free speech is a right granted by God and our Constitution. The point of my comment was that while the students have the right to exercise free speech, the same as any other human being, they did not exercise their right responsibly in this setting.
          I assume by their behavior that they desired to send a message to Vice President Pence and the rest of the administration both at their, now, alma mater and at the White House. In my opinion, however, they chose a poor way to do so.

          • Timothy Horton

            The point of my comment was that while the students have the right to exercise free speech, the same as any other human being, they did not exercise their right responsibly in this setting.

            That is your opinion, one that seems to be common only to religious conservatives.

          • Bryan

            And this, “one that seems to be common only to religious conservatives”, is your opinion.
            The vast majority of the people present did not get up and leave during the speech. I would venture to guess that no more than half were what you would term “religious conservatives”, so why didn’t more people get up when the students got up? Could it be that more than just “religious conservatives” believe that they can exercise their right to free speech in ways that respect the same right of other people?

          • Timothy Horton

            The vast majority of the people present did not get up and leave during the speech.

            That doesn’t make those who left be wrong and it doesn’t affect the majority opinion in the country those who left were perfectly justified in doing so.

          • Bryan

            Tim, no one is arguing that those who left had no justification before the law to act as they did. I am arguing that just because their action was legal, doesn’t make it right. I’m also arguing against the position that only religious conservatives feel that their actions, while within their legal rights, were exercised with poor judgement. You have not presented facts or evidence sufficient to change my opinion.

          • glenbo

            >>”I am arguing that just because their action was legal, doesn’t make it right.”<<
            Why wasn't it "right?"

          • glenbo

            >>” they did not exercise their right responsibly in this setting.”<<
            How so?

      • glenbo

        >>”However, as the author stated, that doesn’t make what they did right.”<<
        Why not?

    • chrisinva

      Tim, check out the above on Fr. Jenkins’ prevarications. It’s not binary.

      • Timothy Horton

        It’s also not factual.

        • chrisinva

          Here are the facts.

          Fr. Jenkins insisted in 2009 that he invited Obama because of his office, not because he was the most avidly pro-abortion leader in the world.

          Then came 2017. A few hundred homosexuals and their sympathizers felt scared (their word) that Trump would be on campus (remember, we used to be called the “Fighting Irish”).

          Jenkins caved. His 2009 excuse was an outright lie after all, as proven by the thirty million dollar taxpayer grant Obama sent ND a few months later. (30 pieces of silver, anyone?)

          Notre Dame alumni elaborate further here: https://sycamoretrust (dot) org/bulletin-archives/

          • Timothy Horton

            The same heavily spun non-factual account.

          • chrisinva

            Your ignorance must be intentional – enjoy it while you can.

          • Christian Cowboy

            Remember only Tim knows the truth.

          • Timothy Horton

            Not always but Tim can sure tell when he’s being lied to.

  • blackfeather

    maybe someday they will come out of their coma.

  • chrisinva

    Father Jenkins misled the students and then made it worse by reversing himself.

    He insisted in 2009 that he invited Obama because of his office, not because he was the most avidly pro-abortion leader in the world.

    Then came 2017. A few hundred homosexuals and their sympathizers felt scared (their word) that Trump would be on campus (remember, we used to be called the “Fighting Irish”).

    Jenkins caved. His 2009 excuse was an outright lie, as proven by the thirty million dollar taxpayer grant Obama sent ND a few months later. (30 pieces of silver, anyone?)

    Notre Dame is awash in cash and it just makes the school’s decline accelerate all the more.

    “Ou Lady’s University” makes Our Lady weep.

    Tears.

  • llew jones

    Of course young Timmy’s real problem ,apart from many lesser ones, is his lack of intellectual maturity that somehow spills over into applauding the childish behavior of his heroes.

    One may have thought that Alex Chediak was a theologian at California Baptist. Here’s part of his CV:

    Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Alex Chediak earned a B.S. Degree at Alfred University in Ceramic Engineering (1996) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Material Science & Engineering from U.C. Berkeley (2001, 2004). He worked as an engineer for IBM for three years (1996-1999).

    From 2005-2007 he was an apprentice at The Bethlehem Institute (now Bethlehem College and Seminary),a masters-level theological training program overseen by Pastors John Piper and Tom Steller. During those years, Alex got his start in
    Christian higher education at Northwestern College. As of 2007, he’s been a professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University in Riverside, CA.

    • Timothy Horton

      LOL! We can always count on llew jones to crawl out from under his rock after the major discussion is over and bravely fling some poo. He’s nothing if not consistent.

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