College Says No Effect on Admissions Decisions for Students Disciplined for Peaceful Protests

Around 200 students from South High School in Minneapolis went to Minneapolis City Hall to protest recent gun violence and call for gun law reform such as restricting the sale of assault rifles. They were joined there by students from other local high schools. (Photo Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)

Around 200 students from South High School in Minneapolis, MN went to Minneapolis City Hall on Feb. 21 to protest recent gun violence and call for gun law reform such as restricting the sale of assault rifles. They were joined there by students from other local high schools. (Photo Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

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.”

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.

The college encourages anyone with questions or concerns about the new policy on peaceful protest by applicants to the college to contact them at admiss@gettysburg.edu.

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Author: Jamie Welch

Jamie Welch '18 serves as editor-in-chief of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since May 2016. Jamie also served as the webmaster and as a staff writer for the features and news sections. He is a computer science major with a business minor. Follow him on Twitter @welchjamesk.

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