Hopkins is now among a growing number of U.S. universities assuring undergraduate student applicants that participating in peaceful protests against gun violence will not negatively impact their chances of admission.
After the University’s announcement, other universities in Maryland, including the University of Maryland, College Park and Goucher College issued similar statements on Monday.
Universities outside of Maryland promising to support the right of applicants to protest gun violence include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, the University of Virginia and Brown University.
On Feb. 14, a mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Stoneman Douglas) in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 people and injured 14 others. It is one of the deadliest school shootings to date.
The suspect is 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas who confessed to the shooting. Law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic style weapon in the shooting.
On Wednesday, Stoneman Douglas students resumed going to school for the first time since the shooting.
Since then, high school students across the nation have been calling for stricter gun control measures. Student protests have been taking place from coast to coast, with thousands rallying in Florida and student walkouts taking place in cities such as Phoenix, Chicago and Minneapolis. On Feb. 21, hundreds of Maryland students marched to the U.S. Capitol to protest gun violence.
On Friday, Feb. 23, the University issued a statement on Twitter stating that it valued students who engage in “productive + peaceful student engagement.” Similar announcements were made on other social media channels and on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website.
“Our undergrad admissions office supports students who take respectful action, and your admission will not be negatively impacted if you are disciplined for expressing yourself in a peaceful way,” the statement read.
In an email to The News-Letter, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Ellen Kim explained why the University issued the statement.
“With the growing national conversation around this topic, we thought it was important to let our prospective students and applicants know what our policy is,” Kim wrote.
She stressed that the University has not adopted a new stance on student activism but instead sought to emphasize their existing viewpoint.
“The statement is a reinforcement of our policy and is about supporting high school students as they learn to use their civic voice, whatever the topic may be; in this instance, there’s clearly a very deep-felt reaction to an important civic issue that many students across the country feel strongly about voicing their opinions on,” she wrote.
Kim went on to explain that an indication of disciplinary history does not result in the automatic disqualification of an applicant.
“All disciplinary history is considered in context: our admissions committee uses the student’s explanation and, oftentimes, letters from teachers or high school counselors, to understand and help us interpret the circumstances around each student and what the situation was,” she wrote.
Kim also clarified that the University’s statement on Feb. 23 does not strictly apply to activism related to gun control.
“This would apply to any participation that was done in a way that shows the student was engaged in a thoughtful and peaceful manner,” Kim wrote. “This statement and policy is about supporting students expressing their civic voice, which could apply to a multitude of issues.”
According to Kim, the University would look at the intent of applicants who engaged in student activism, as well as what they learned from civic engagement.
“Activism is most impactful when there is a productive expression and exchange of ideas,” she wrote. “We’re looking for students who are participating in civic discourse that is personally meaningful to them but who are also open and respectful to other viewpoints.”