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.
A reminder to Superintendent #CurtisRhodes and the administration of #NeedvilleISD: The Constitution protects stude… https://t.co/lDbKASpKwQ— ACLU of Texas (@ACLU of Texas)1519263945.0
Needville administrators can’t censor political speech they might find distasteful, nor can they punish students mo… https://t.co/vekFVEGtPb— ACLU of Texas (@ACLU of Texas)1519263974.0
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.
Wouldn't it be great if well-established Admissions folks from a wide variety of distinguished colleges and univers… https://t.co/NTv5S52OS2— David Quinn (@David Quinn)1519260607.0
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.
UConn would like to assure students who have applied or been admitted to the University that disciplinary action as… https://t.co/zdVexlXqBZ— UConn (@UConn)1519435627.0
@UConn UConn students raised more than $1 million last weekend for Connecticut Children's Medical Center; and now t… https://t.co/m32U142PIC— Mana (@Mana)1519453286.0
Worcester Polytechnic Institute said they base their decisions on "their values & principles."
HS students are worried that getting suspended for peacefully protesting against gun violence may hurt chances to g… https://t.co/jSxvy7UmEb— WPI (@WPI)1519420418.0
WPI's Dean of Admissions, Andrew Palumbo tweeted:
Agreed. I can’t believe I even have to clarify this: students applying to WPI will not be penalized for exercising… https://t.co/c6iw5VmGDq— Andrew B. Palumbo (@Andrew B. Palumbo)1519273334.0
@WPI I applaud you! 👏👏👏 WPI is already my daughter's fist choice. Now it's number one PLUS.— The Princess Broad (@The Princess Broad)1519495706.0
@WPI I got a disciplinary referral for protesting gun violence! This gives me a big relief I was so worried!— golf dad andrew (@golf dad andrew)1519493745.0
University of Massachusetts at Amherst also said the applications of students who protested won't be affected.
Students: If you participate in peaceful protests against gun violence and receive school discipline for walking ou… https://t.co/n9naxIe8tS— UMass Admissions (@UMass Admissions)1519305559.0
@UMassAmherstUA This is commendable because every university should want students who are committed to change and w… https://t.co/VnVasoPADF— Army Vet (@Army Vet)1519351277.0
In response to a critic who accused the University of "pushing a leftist agenda," UMass set the record straight with this tweet:
We are not “pushing a leftist agenda.” Peaceful civic engagement is encouraged at UMass Amherst, regardless of the… https://t.co/ymBWK7yhx9— UMass Admissions (@UMass Admissions)1519389519.0