High school students can now participate in the National School Walkout, a national protest for gun control measures, without jeopardizing their admission to many colleges and universities, including Quinnipiac.
The university has reassured applicants that if they get suspended during the National Walkout, it will not negatively impact their admissions process.
The National School Walkout will take place on March 14 at hundreds of high school campuses. Students will leave school at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 lives that were taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER website
This protest is in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 and all school shootings prior to ensure the safety of schools in the future. It is a call for gun-control measures, including a ban on assault rifles (AR-15), according to USA Today.
Quinnipiac’s official Twitter account tweeted its public statement on the issue on Feb. 27.
Quinnipiac University is a community that supports students’ rights to express themselves peacefully. Students who are disciplined for peaceful protest or productive civic engagement can rest assured their admission into the university will not be adversely affected.
— QuinnipiacUniversity (@QuinnipiacU) February 27, 2018
Greg Eichhorn, associate vice president of admissions and financial aid, was part of the final decision to make a statement on behalf of Quinnipiac to support students participating in walkouts. He worked in conjunction with the other admissions staff, public affairs and the integrated marketing group about where and when to release that statement.
Originally, Eichhorn was opposed to making a public statement.
“I will be honest, my first impression was that I didn’t feel a need to (make a public statement) because (supporting those students) is the right thing to do,” he said. “We have done that historically, so why do we need to make a statement of what we believe in and what is the obvious just to put it out there?”
Once the cause got bigger, more colleges and corporations started supporting it. Eichhorn said that if Quinnipiac didn’t release a statement, it would’ve looked like the only institution that was not in support of the cause.
“Whether it is this particular issue or others, (Quinnipiac) would always support students that would be in supporting causes in a peaceful manner,” Eichhorn said. “We would never penalize a student for voicing their concerns in a peaceful manner.”
This walkout has become a topic of controversy and although high school administrations are aware of the movement, some do not support it.
Schools have threatened students with suspension if they participate in the walkout.
Curtis Rhodes, superintendent for the Needville Independent School District in Texas said that if his students participated in any type of protest or awareness, they would be suspended for three days, according to USA Today.
“Life is all about choices and every choice has a consequence whether it be positive or negative,” Rhodes said. “We will discipline no matter if it is one, 50 or 500 students involved. A disruption of the school will not be tolerated.”
USA Today reported that over 250 colleges and universities have tweeted their support of these students and reassured them that even if they get disciplined for the walkout, it will not be used against them throughout the admissions process.
“We actually want students who are active,” Eichhorn said. “We don’t want students who are passive and sit in the back. Someone that is an activist, proactive and supporting a cause no matter what that cause is is someone we would want to add to the community.”
Other Connecticut colleges have joined in on the movement.
UConn tweeted its support of the national walkout as well.
UConn would like to assure students who have applied or been admitted to the University that disciplinary action associated with participation in peaceful protests will not affect your admission decision in any way.
— UConn (@UConn) February 24, 2018
Yale University followed suit.
“We encourage students to be vocal when they see an opportunity for change in our institution and in the world,” Yale tweeted. “… To punish our applicants for (participating) would go against the very beliefs that make Yale such a special place to study.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted to students, educating them on the regulations for punishment.
“Schools can discipline you for missing class,” the tweet said. “They can’t punish you with a harsher punishment for protesting than for another reason. If your school does that, the ACLU wants to hear from you.”
Rachel Hickey, a junior physical therapy major thinks it is fair for Quinnipiac to publically support high school students who stand up for what they believe in and particiapte in the walkout.
“I think it goes along with freedom of speech, I think it’s fair that students admissions status does not get penalized because it is something that I would want to participate in if I were still in high school,” she said. “I’m interested in going to the March For Our Lives on March 24, I think if it were during classes and I went and skipped class and my teachers were to turn around and mark me down and take away my credit or something, I would be pissed, I don’t think that’s right.”
Hickey said that if she were still in high school and participated in the walkout, got suspended and then got her acceptance from the school of her dreams rescinded, she would not take it lightly.
“I’d be mad and angry, I would reach out to them and say, ‘Listen this was for a cause that almost everyone in the world is paying attention to,’” Hickey said. “It’s something we need to focus on and I did my part and stood up for what I believe in. I think that it is horse shit to take an acceptance away. Great and successful people have gotten to where they are today because they make their voices heard. If universities look down on, how are any of us going to grow up to be successful.”
Prospective students are required to fill out the Common Application in order to be considered for college acceptance. This application asks prospective students if they have ever been suspended from school. Students are provided with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ box and they must be truthful.
“Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution you have attended from the ninth grade (or the international equivalent) forward, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in a disciplinary action? These actions could include, but are not limited to: probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution,” according to www.commonapp.org.
Students have to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and must answer truthfully. If students check yes, they must provide an explanation for what happened.
The application continues by asking students if they have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony. If the answer is yes, students must provide an explanation.
Eichhorn said that when an admissions counselor sees that a student was suspended in high school, the reaction is to get an explanation on what happened.
“After getting an explanation, (the rest of the admissions process) is based upon the severity of the issue,” he said. “We get very few suspensions, the ones we do get are fairly minor.”
Although Eichhorn saw some mild reasoning for suspension at his last institution, he never saw any suspensions for demonstration.
“The only thing I can recall from my previous institution were social media violations of school policies and matters where someone inappropriately said something that was misinterpreted,” he said.
Eichhorn said that because Quinnipiac supports an active student body on campus, the university also supports active high school students.
“The more dynamic our campus is, the better off we are,” he said.