New England Colleges: High School Walkouts Will Not Affect Admissions

Feb 23, 2018

Admissions staff at a growing number of New England colleges said they will not penalize high school students punished for participating in walkouts in the wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Across the country, students are staging events to protest gun violence and support victims of the shooting that killed 17 people. Administrators at some high schools have threatened to take disciplinary action against students who participate, and that could end up on their transcripts.

But Hampshire College spokesman John Courtmanche said students applying there shouldn't let that stop them. 

"We absolutely support the rights of students to exercise their rights including freedom of expression and participating in peaceful protests," Courtmanche said. "So we would never penalize a high school student for exercising those rights.”

Admissions officers at Smith College, Springfield College, UMass, MIT, Boston University, Dartmouth College and Tufts University also said disciplinary action resulting from peaceful protests will not be held against students applying to those schools.

Staff members at some of these admissions offices even took to social media to clarify their position.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the UMass Office of Undergraduate Admissions said possible disciplinary actions resulting from applicants participating in peaceful protests against gun violence “will not affect your admission decision.”

Smith College Dean of Admission Deb Shaver posted a similar message on Twitter:

In an interview, Smith's vice president for enrollment, Audrey Smith, said civic engagement and peaceful dissent are qualities administrators at Smith hope to foster in their students.

“Peaceful protest is something that our students do before they arrive at Smith, it’s something that they do while they’re at Smith, and it’s something that they do after Smith,” she said. “We think it’s a good thing for students to be engaged in social change.”

This report includes information from Fred Thys of WBUR.