Vanderbilt admissions will not penalize students punished for peaceful demonstrations

As high school students across the country protest in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, universities say that any disciplinary actions students face will not affect their admissions decisions

Updated March 1 at 2:30 p.m.

As high school students across the country stage protests and walkouts in response to the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fl., Vanderbilt joined over 80 universities, including MIT, Brown, American, Dartmouth and others, in saying that any disciplinary action taken against protestors will not affect their applications to the university.

In a statement released Feb. 25 on Vanderbilt’s undergraduate admissions blog, the university said that, as with all parts of the application process, disciplinary actions are looked at in their context, and participation in peaceful demonstrations will not impact admissions decisions.

“Recent media coverage of peaceful demonstrations by high school students, and the potential consequences for those participating, prompted concerns and questions among current college applicants and prospective students, as well as, parents and high school counselors,” said Doug Christiansen, Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, in a statement to the Hustler. “We received inquiries about our admissions policy, including from the National Association for College Admission Counseling. We, like many universities, wanted to provide open and transparent communication for prospective students to assist them with the application process.”

These statements come as some school officials across the country threaten students who protest or walkout during school hours with disciplinary action. In Needville Independent School District in Texas, superintendent Curtis Rhodes said students who choose to demonstrate will face three day suspensions. Students in Prince William County schools outside of Washington D.C. were told in a letter from the superintendent that leaving school will subject them to disciplinary action in accordance to district behavioral rules.

National demonstrations are planned for March 14, March 24 and April 20. Meanwhile, many students continue to stage walkouts and protests in their local communities to show solidarity with the victims of the Parkland shooting and demand governmental action regarding campus safety.

Read Vanderbilt’s full statement below:

The undergraduate admissions process at Vanderbilt has long employed a holistic review of applications, considering many parts of the applications we receive. At the same time, we believe strongly in understanding the context of a student’s application, and in making admissions decisions with that context in mind. Our intent is to build a community of academically talented students and we welcome those from myriad backgrounds with a broad cross-section of viewpoints.

Just like every other part of the application process, discipline infractions are considered on a case-by-case basis within the context of their occurrences, and within the context of the values that we uphold as a university. To that end, students who are penalized for meaningful, peaceful participation in demonstrations will not be negatively impacted in our admissions process merely because they participate in such activities. Protection and promotion of civil discourse is central to the Vanderbilt experience and values.