The University of Notre Dame announced Thursday that it had chosen its commencement speaker, The Washington Post reported.
But rather than invite President Trump, the school chose to host Vice President Mike Pence, a slight change from tradition during the prior two presidencies.
In fact, four of the past six presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter — spoke at Notre Dame’s graduation during their first year in office, according to The Washington Post, in addition to receiving an honorary degree during the ceremony.
The decision to invite Pence ended conjecture among students over who would provide the school’s graduation remarks in the spring. Thousands of students and faculty members signed a petition urging the school not to invite Trump.
Commencement speeches have become increasingly politicized affairs. Obama was unable to escape criticism during his speech at Notre Dame in 2009 and endured shouts of “baby killer” and “abortion is murder.”
Some speakers have been forced to drop out of speeches after accepting the honour due to backlash on campus. Condoleezza Rice, for example, withdrew from speaking at the Rutgers University commencement ceremony in 2014 after students and faculty protested.
Trump, too, has been the subject of withering criticism at Notre Dame. “He has had so much hateful rhetoric in his campaign and since he has been president,” Notre Dame senior Mylan Jefferson, 21, told The Washington Post. “The actions and words that Donald Trump uses directly contradict our mission statement.”
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