Protecting Young Activism

By UM News

Protecting Young Activism

By UM News
Universities and colleges across the country are revisiting admission standards to ensure student applicants will not be adversely impacted if they are disciplined for peaceful protests.

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, universities and colleges across the country, including the University of Miami, are reinforcing admission standards to protect incoming students who may have faced disciplinary action from a peaceful protest related to gun violence.

The surviving students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have galvanized the effort to strengthen gun control laws in Florida and nationally, and they have called for a national day of protest on March 24 in Washington, D.C.

The call to action is gathering steam, and March 24 protests – called the “March For Our Lives” movement – are expected in a number of cities across the country to bring attention to their cause. The national day of protest comes on the heels of individual student walkouts and protests that already have taken place, including Stoneman Douglas students and others who traveled to Tallahassee to talk with Florida legislators about strengthening gun laws. 

Last week and over the weekend, higher education institutions from Boston to Seattle issued statements reassuring prospective and admitted students that they would not be penalized if they faced disciplinary action for participating in peaceful protests.

The University of Miami released this statement over the weekend: 

“The University of Miami requires that student applicants disclose discipline as part of its admission process. This said, universities are places where students gain knowledge and insight, and we support and respect the views of our students. The University of Miami will not punish a student applicant if, after review on a case-by-case basis, the Admission Committee determines they have been disciplined while exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression while in peaceful protest of an issue, such as gun violence.”

According to TIME, the University of Florida also issued a statement in support of student applicants and their right to freedom of expression. Other institutions offering support included Brown University, American University, MIT, Boston University, Northeastern University, Bucknell University and the University of Puget Sound. 

UM Provost Jeffrey Duerk said UM’s support of high school students participating in peaceful protests “is the right thing to do.” The University’s connection to Stoneman Douglas High School is deep. Ten students from Stoneman Douglas have been admitted into the incoming fall 2018 class, and 27 Stoneman Douglas alumni are currently enrolled at UM.

“The resilience of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students is remarkable, and we will continue to offer support to them and their efforts to exercise their rights to free speech and freedom of expression,” Duerk said.