Office of Admission Will Not Penalize Protest Participants

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The logo for the “March For Our Lives” demonstrations following violence in Parkland.

Megan Leo, Editor-in-Chief

The Office of Admission at Colgate University announced on Sunday that if college applicants face disciplinary action for partaking in nationwide high school protests against gun violence, it will not negatively impact an applicant’s chance of attending Colgate.

In the weeks following the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting in which 17 students and staff were killed, high school students have openly expressed frustration with a lack of gun control legislation and mobilized in protest. Certain school districts and high schools have threatened to suspend students who participate in walkouts that are related to anti-gun protests. Prompted by these threats, some institutions of higher education have released statements vowing not to penalize applicants who are disciplined by their high schools for participation in the protests.

Through an online statement released Sunday evening, the Colgate Office of Admission announced: “At Colgate, and as now articulated by many of our peers, Colgate will not penalize applicants or admitted students involved in lawful, peaceful protest during their high school years. If a student is disciplined by their school for their peaceful participation in a lawful protest, please promptly report it to the Colgate Office of Admission, but be assured we will take no punitive action.”

Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Gary Ross described the circumstances surrounding the announcement. 

“Our statement, to be sure, was prompted by the tragic issue, but the fact is that the Constitution doesn’t state that there needs to be a tragedy in order for someone to be able to exercise their constitutional rights,” Ross said. “We tried to craft the statement in such away so that, as long as students are abiding by the law and expressing their opinions in peaceful ways, they’re entitled to do so.”

Per the conditional nature of an acceptance to Colgate, applicants are required to report any disciplinary action. Colgate retains the right to revoke or defer an offer of admission if an applicant’s conduct results in any disciplinary action such as a suspension. 

“[The Office of Admission] expect[s] students to tell us if there has been a change in their personal record,” Ross said. “That could mean, among the various possibilities, criminal activity that we would expect to find out about, or it could mean disciplinary activity within the high school. The disciplinary activity could range from a warning all the way up to an expulsion, where a student is disqualified from further participation in their high school.”

Applicants disciplined for participating in anti-gun protests will not be penalized by Colgate in the admissions process, but still must report any disciplinary action to the University.

“Our statement, I hope, made very clear the fact that Colgate will not penalize applicants or newly admitted students who were involved in a lawful, peaceful protest during their high school years,” Ross said. “I think many of us view that as the proper exercise of their privileges afforded to them under the Constitution of the United States, and we find nothing wrong with it.”

Student mobilization is expected to increase in the coming months, as demonstrations called “March For Our Lives” are scheduled to take place across the United States on March 24. A national high school walkout has been scheduled for April 20, and calls for high school students to leave their classrooms on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

Contact Megan Leo at [email protected]