College Says No Effect on Admissions Decisions for Students Disciplined for Peaceful Protests
By Jamie Welch, Editor-in-Chief
Gettysburg College has joined the growing list of colleges and universities that have pledged that discipline by high schools for engaging in peaceful protests, such as those now occurring across the country against gun violence, will not have an effect on admissions decisions.
“Gettysburg College prepares students to engage in the complex questions of our time through effective leadership and socially responsible citizenship,” a statement released Monday by the college on social media reads in part. “Committed to these institutional values, we want to assure all students who have applied or been admitted to Gettysburg that school discipline resulting from peaceful protest will not jeopardize your admissions decision in any way.”
The statement from Gettysburg College comes as students have been staging walkouts and other peaceful protests in the wake of the shooting earlier this month at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the ninth deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
The number of protests nationwide is growing quickly, now including several national protests that are being planned for the coming months. On Mar. 14, the Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group is planning a nationwide school walkout and another nationwide walkout is being planned for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
Also, student organizers are planning the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C on March 24.
“The mission and focus of March for Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues,” the March for Our Lives website reads. “No special interest group, no political agenda is more critical than timely passage of legislation to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.”
Hundreds of Blair High students march down Colesville Road for walkout to protest gun violence pic.twitter.com/IaAoRZwUul
— Bethany Rodgers (@BethRodgersBB) February 21, 2018
Kurtis Rhodes, the superintendent of Needville Independent School District in Houston, Texas, said last week that if students protested during school hours, they would be given a three-day suspension. Several other schools, both public and private, have followed suit, making similar statements or taking action to block protests.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas released a statement in response to Rhodes on Twitter about student rights when protesting. In it, the ACLU said that “students don’t abandon their right to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse door.”
The ACLU also tweeted a reminder that schools can’t punish protesters more harshly than they ordinarily would punish students who skipped class for another reason.
Lots of questions about students’ rights in a walkout.
Here’s the gist: Your school can punish you for missing class, just like they always can, but it can’t punish you more harshly for protesting than if you were missing class for another reason. #KnowYourRights
— ACLU (@ACLU) February 23, 2018
The college encourages anyone with questions or concerns about the new policy on peaceful protest by applicants to the college to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.