In the wake of protests against gun violence across the country, Yale’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions on Friday reassured applicants and admitted students that participating in peaceful protests will not jeopardize their admissions decisions, even if they are disciplined by their high schools as a result.
Some high schools have warned students that they could face discipline for participating in walkouts during school time, as teenagers across the country protest in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and gear up for a nationwide walkout on March 14. A high school in the Houston area, for instance, issued a letter last week saying all students will be suspended for three days if they choose to participate in any walkouts or other disruptive activities during school hours.
But on Friday, the University allayed the concerns of high school students worried that participating in walkouts might lead Yale to retract their admissions offers. In a post titled “In Support of Student Protests” on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions’ website, Director of Recruitment Hannah Mendlowitz ’12 wrote that Yale will not rescind “anyone’s admission decision for participating in peaceful walkouts for this or other causes, regardless of any high school’s disciplinary policy.”
“This post was written in response to questions we had received from admitted students and applicants concerned about whether a potential disciplinary action on their record for participating in demonstrations would affect their admission to Yale,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said. “This is not a new policy. We consider each disciplinary action that is reported in the context of the full application.”
In her post, Mendlowitz emphasized that Yale expects its incoming students “to be versed in issues of social justice” and encourages them “to be vocal when they see an opportunity for change in our institution and in the world.”
She added that punishing applicants for advocating change “would go against the very beliefs that make Yale such a special place to study” and that she supports high school students around the country who decide to protest.
“What high schoolers across the nation are doing right now is brave, it is good, it is larger than an absence from school or a blemish on an academic record or a college admissions decision,” Mendlowitz wrote. “If you can’t march beside them, at least stand behind them. And at the very least, do not stand in their way.”
Several students already admitted to the class of 2022 praised the office for its response.
Nolan Arkansas, an admitted student from Cherokee, North Carolina, said that, while he has not participated in the recent protests, he is “extremely pleased” with Yale’s position on the matter.
“Already, before even attending, Yale has shown support for students’ passions and efforts,” Arkansas said.
On the Facebook group for admitted students, Arkansas said, an admissions officer recently wrote, “We’ll be cheering you on from New Haven,” in reference to the gun control demonstrations.
Alexandra Rocha, an admitted student from Watsonville, California, who plans to participate in the March 14 protest, said it is “wonderful” that Yale has rallied behind students who want to take action.
“It takes a big load off our shoulders to know that our activism will not endanger our admission decision,” Rocha said.
A number of other institutions have published statements similar to Yale’s, including Dartmouth College, Brown University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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