Colleges won’t punish students for protesting

Elin Johnson, Staff writer

College admissions teams across the country are choosing to ignore punishments levied at students staging protests against gun violence.

Linfield is joining the movement. The college has received no questions from prospective students about whether suspensions due to protests would be considered on their college applications, according to Dan Preston, vice president of enrollment management.

However, Linfield has posted an official statement to the National Association of College Admission Counseling website, “Students who have been admitted to Linfield College and those who have applied for admission will not be penalized for peacefully participating in protests, even if participation results in a suspension by their high school.”

“It is important to Linfield that when an issue related to college admission receives national attention and the issue relates to our admission practice or policy, that the college clarify our position,” Preston explained. He said that Linfield usually looks at prospective student’s history of discipline while in high school to better understand them.

Linfield is not the only Oregon school considering what should be done about prospective students who protest. Nate McIntyre, the senior associate director of undergraduate admissions at George Fox University, said that they consider applications on a case by case basis.

McIntyre said that to the best of his knowledge George Fox has not received an application from a student who could be impacted by these decisions. George Fox has yet to release an official statement about the subject.

Over in Salem, Willamette University has made clear statements in support of the students practicing peaceful protests. Jeremy Bogan, the vice president and dean of enrollment at Willamette, posted a statement on Feb. 24 saying that the school will not consider discipline actions taken against students who demonstrated against gun violence.

Todd Denning, Willamette’s campus visit coordinator, explained that this was because they believe that engaging in civil activities only enriches the learning done inside the classroom. Denning said that this showed students’ academic aptitude.

“Willamette is a very progressive school. We feel that being an educated person and living in a world where there is a strong intersection between people expressing their civil liberties and learning in the classroom is highly correlated. We shouldn’t think of those things as separate but as manifestations of each others,” Denning said.

Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, high school students across the country have been planning walkouts and demonstrations against gun violence.

The superintendent of Needville Independent School Districts in Texas stated that any student planning a walkout will be suspended. Superintendent Curtis Rhodes posted this statement to his Facebook page in preparation for a student walkout on Feb. 21. The page was taken down after the school district received backlash for the post.

Community members were not the only ones upset by this stance. The statement prompted university admissions offices to publicly state that any student interested in applying to their school need not worry about the suspension marring their record.

Additional student walkouts have been scheduled for March 14 and April 20. March For Our Lives, an organization founded by students to combat gun violence, has scheduled a protest on March 24th in Washington, D.C.