Univ. addresses applicant fears
Participation in peaceful protest and any resulting disciplinary action will not affect applicants’ chances of admission to Brandeis, the University announced on its social media accounts on Feb. 23.
The announcement came at the heels of a Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which saw 17 fatalities and 14 injured. In the wake of the shooting, students across the country have staged or begun planning class walkouts in memoriam the survivors and victims, also demanding tighter gun measures, according to a March 1 WBUR “All Things Considered.” There will be a slew of “March for Our Lives” walkouts across the country on March 24, and on March 14, Brandeis students will hold a walkout in solidarity with Parkland, featuring a 17-minute moment of silence to honor each of the victims.
Hundreds of students around the United States — high school- and college-aged alike — will walk out of class in protest this month. However, WBUR notes, some high school administrators have threatened to discipline students who miss class to protest.
Yet the University will not penalize applicants for participating in peaceful protests. “Brandeis supports students’ right to stand up for their beliefs. Those who participate in peaceful protests will not jeopardize their admission to Brandeis. Speak up, speak out,” read the University’s statement, which was posted on Facebook and Twitter.
The University’s message echoed similar ones from colleges and universities around the country, including Yale University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Virginia and George Washington University.
“We can’t speak for other colleges, but high schoolers have enough to worry about. We do not want to be the source of any additional, unneeded anxiety,” read one comment from the University’s account on the Feb. 23 Facebook post.
The statement was posted on the University’s social media pages on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, according to an email from Dean of Admissions Jennifer Walker, a copy of which was provided to the Brandeis Hoot and the Justice.
While the statement came as students prepare to hold protests in favor of stricter gun restrictions, the message should not be read as the University taking a position on gun control, Walker wrote. “The tweet was intended to reassure high school students, some of whom may be facing disciplinary action for expressing their views in upcoming protests that are being planned across the country,” she explained.
When applying to Brandeis, applicants are asked about any disciplinary violations and are given the opportunity to provide information on the circumstances, Walker wrote. “Brandeis, like MIT, Dartmouth and other schools that released statements recently, supports students’ right to participate in peaceful protests without jeopardizing their admission,” she added.
In fact, participation in a protest may even fit in with the University’s social justice values, Walker suggested.
“Having the bravery to stand up, to organize people, that takes a lot of courage and that is certainly something that I think would be applauded here,” Walker told WBUR. “From a Brandeis perspective, I think speaking up and speaking out is a good fit for our campus culture.”