22/05/2017 2:25 PM AEST | Updated 22/05/2017 2:25 PM AEST

University Students Walk Out During Mike Pence's Commencement Speech

Dozens of students walked out of Vice President Mike Pence's commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday.

One student sported a rainbow cape, while a number of others who walked out in protest bore rainbow flags on their graduation caps. Pence, a former governor of Indiana, has a history of hostility toward the LGBTQ community.

In his remarks at the Indiana university, the vice president criticized what he called campus "safe spaces" and urged students not to suppress free speech.

"While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe spaces, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness ― all of which amounts to the suppression of free speech," he said. "These practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge."

Pence is not the only political speaker who's received a mixed welcome at the university. In 2009, then-President Barack Obama faced protests over his support for abortion rights, with some graduates choosing to skip the ceremony altogether.