By Mackenzie Herring
Following statements from other academic institutions such as MIT and Boston University, Lewis & Clark Admissions has decided that any disciplinary action taken in response to participation in National School Walkout Day and March for Our Lives will not affect the admissions decision for any applicants. In a tweet on Feb. 26, the college said it would stand by those engaging in peaceful protest and will not penalize admitted students even if their current high school does so.
“We want to reassure students who have been admitted to Lewis & Clark and those who have submitted applications that your admission decision will not be jeopardized, even if your school penalizes you for participating in this type of protest,” the tweet said.
After speaking to other LC admissions counselors as well as those in Public Affairs and Communications, Dean for Enrollment and Communications Lisa Meyer wrote the tweet. Meyer said that worries from admitted students, as well as those across the country, drove her to take action.
“It came about because we started to hear some concern from students, some of them applying to Lewis & Clark, but just nationwide we were seeing students asking ‘What’s going to happen if I protest and I get suspended?’” Meyer said. “There was a school in the Houston area that said ‘If people protest we are going to fully suspend them and it’s going on your record.’ So students were worried about ‘what will happen to my application? All the work I’ve done for college, am I putting that on the line?’”
Meyer’s statement is not only on the LC Twitter account but is also on the Admissions home page and is linked to a national website used by admissions counselors. In relation to statements made by other institutions, Meyer said LC’s reputation helped speak for why the college decided to act.
“It’s interesting because a number of these places have these pretty lengthy statements about their philosophy and why they’re doing this and then what they are doing,” Meyers said. “So when I first went to make this statement I talked to a few people around campus saying ‘What do you think? Should I talk about the background and why?’and everyone pretty much said ‘I don’t think you need to.’ These are our values. That is evident from anybody who enrolls here or reads about the college. This is a place that believes in having a voice, in making the world a better place, allowing students as well as faculty and staff to share their opinions.’”
Co-president of the LC College Democrats Charlotte Powers ’21 said that statements like these promote activism and community involvement.
“In my opinion why should students be punished for enacting activism and passion for something they believe is right?” Powers said. “Making it known to (students) that they won’t be punished is super important because that can be an impinging factor on students truly acting for what they believe in, and I think Lewis & Clark being a model for other colleges to follow is super pivotal in making this movement okay.”
LC Young Democratic Socialists of America co-chair Zane Dundon ’18 said that while actions like these are necessary, colleges can do much more to aid this movement.
“I think it’s good to see, but I guess I would say statements like this are a first step and a small thing that the college administrations can do, but actions are what really matter,” Dundon said.
Dundon said that colleges should also stand by those protesting other forms of gun violence, not just those committed by rogue assailants.
“I am happy that they are supporting students who are fighting for reduced gun violence and I would want to make sure that they also extend that support to students fighting gun violence when that violence is committed by the police or state actors,” Dundon said. “Because we obviously don’t want private individuals to commit violence in schools, we also don’t want cops to commit violence against people in schools.”
As an educator on social movements and acts of solidarity, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies Magalí Rabasa said that while many schools are making these statements, an essential part of the larger gun control movement is being ignored.
“Although I think these statements are especially important in the current political climate, as many have noted in recent days, it’s also essential to recognize that while this movement is being supported by major institutions and the mainstream media, another youth-led movement that has been calling for gun control in the wake of a traumatic event for the last five years, the movement for Black Lives, has not been recognized, or even acknowledged, in this way,” Rabasa said. “Any conversation about organizing for the rights and safety of youth in the US must also include a conversation about the pervasive culture of white supremacy that affects all facets of our society.”
LC’s recent tweet was crafted as a direct response to the March for Our Lives Movement but aims to prevent the silencing of student voices.
“I certainly hope that the result is students feel empowered to have their voices heard,” Meyer said. “That’s the goal. I think there’s a pretty powerful movement going on right now, and there’s a very small group of people trying to stifle that, and by providing the support we allow students not to worry about that small subset trying to squash their voices.”