The University has become the latest institution of higher education to reassure applicants that their participation in peaceful protests won’t affect their admission status.
“Students who act on their conscience in peaceful, principled protest will receive full consideration in our admissions process,” the University wrote in a released on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 26.
“I think that’s the most helpful line in the statement,” said Jessica Sarriot, a graduate student in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International affairs who is organizing a March 14 campus rally for gun reform. “Universities are supposed to teach civic engagement and what it means to be a citizen. That’s part of a liberal arts education.”
“I think that it was a good decision,” said Alis Yoo ’19, another rally organizer and the President of the Asian American Students Association. “I think it helps us grow as activists, as organizers, as people who care about the political situation of our country and our fellow Americans.”
In its statement, the University affirmed the right for students to engage in peaceful protests.
“Many forms of peaceful protest are fully consistent with the rules of American high schools,” wrote the University, “and we have no reason to suppose that such protests will result in disciplinary action.”
The University emphasized its mission to “advance learning through scholarship, research, and teaching of unsurpassed quality, with a proud and demonstrated commitment to serve the nation and the world.”
However, the University noted that students who are disciplined for protesting will be asked to write an additional statement regarding “why they were moved to protest and why they were subject to discipline.”
Requiring students to write an additional statement about the penalty and its circumstances is common practice for all disciplinary infractions. The Common Application — the most widely used college application platform — asks applicants for any .
According to the statement, the University will evaluate the additional statements “in the light of all relevant circumstances, including the character of the student conduct involved and the school’s justification for disciplining it.”
“I’m disappointed and not terrible impressed by the language and tone of the statement,” said Sarriot. “They could have used slightly stronger language than basically repeating what the admissions process is.”
According to Sarriot, students had contacted the University before the statement was issued to demonstrate their support for student protestors.
Cat Sharp ’18 had urged students in a Facebook post on Feb. 26 to email administrators and express support that the University “follow the examples of other schools and make a public statement reaffirming our dedication to free speech.”
“I sent an email to Vice President Rochelle Calhoun and Dean of Admissions Rapelye. I got an response fifty-four minutes later, so pretty quick,” said Sharp. “Which probably means that it was not prompted by me but was something they had been planning to do before, or maybe prompted by other students reaching out.”
“The statement was, I would say, a lot less enthusiastic, and in that sense controversial, than statements that other schools gave,” Sharp added.
Associate news editors Audrey Spensley and Sarah Warman Hirschfield contributed reporting.