Student protestors against gun violence are concerned about jeopardizing their chances of getting into the college of their choice, but it seems they have an ally in the increasing number of universities who support their demonstrations.
Many students expressed their rage over America's lax gun laws, crying out, "Never again!" after the Florida shooting. The impassioned teens demanded stricter gun reform and engaged in nationwide campus walkouts on Wednesday.
Students at one high school in Texas were threatened with disciplinary action if they missed out on their classes to protest in response to the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14. Concerned over their admission status, the students reached out to various colleges and universities.
Curtis Rhodes, the superintendent of Needville Independent School District in Houston, Texas, was one of the first school administrators to caution the students who planned to participate in any type of protest during school hours.
Should students choose to do so, they will be suspended from school for 3 days and face all the consequences that come along with an out of school suspension.
On Wednesday, however, The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas reminded Rhodes that prohibiting students from expressing political concerns and punishing them accordingly for protesting was illegal.
Rest assured, college hopefuls received comforting news.
According to WBUR, at least a dozen New England universities issued statements expressing that protest participation is up to the discretion of each student. The universities also assured students who actively engaged in the gun reform rallies that their applications won't be affected.
In MIT's acceptance letter, applicants are not obligated to disclose their disciplinary actions from protesting after submission, but the university maintains the right to rescind admission.
In a blogpost, MIT Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services, Stu Schmill, addressed the concerns of admitted students who have a history of being involved in protests.
[A] disciplinary action associated with meaningful, peaceful participation in a protest will not negatively impact their admissions decision, because we would not view it as inappropriate or lacking integrity on its face.
[W]e hold our students to a high standard and give them a wide berth," Schmill went on. "It would be at best quixotic, and at worst hypocritical, if we treated our applicants differently, penalizing them for engaging in responsible, responsive citizenship as the students at Stoneman Douglas and elsewhere have done.
Boston University's Associate Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions, Kelly A. Walter, wrote a statement for their website:
Boston University believes that every student should expect a safe school environment in which to learn and study. We stand in support of every high school student who chooses to participate in peaceful protests, such as the March For Our Lives and the National School Walkout Day, or who thoughtfully and respectfully exercise their freedom of expression.
Other universities showed their encouragement in the fight for safer schools. University of Connecticut assured students not to worry about their admissions.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute said they base their decisions on "their values & principles."
WPI's Dean of Admissions, Andrew Palumbo tweeted:
University of Massachusetts at Amherst also said the applications of students who protested won't be affected.
In response to a critic who accused the University of "pushing a leftist agenda," UMass set the record straight with this tweet: