The loss of 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 14 has caused a wave of activism from students across the country. Many of today’s high school students have grown up in an age where ¨school shooting¨ is a household term, prompting them to demand common-sense gun reform and curb the regular tragedies at American schools.
Inspired by student activists from Parkland, teens from across the country are stepping up by organizing walkouts and other protests at their school. Nearly 185,000 students walked out during the nationwide March 14 protest.
Photo: Alex Radelich on Unsplash
While some student protesters have received support from their administrations, many others found themselves threatened with disciplinary action by their schools. This became a major concern for student protestors, as any marks on their record could prevent them from attending selective colleges.
As activist passion spread through the nation and across social media, colleges from New York to California began stepping up for the futures of protesting students: over 200 universities have assured prospective and admitted students that disciplinary action from protests and walkouts will not harm them in the admissions process.
Dartmouth, for example, urged students to ¨Speak [their] truth.¨
Top colleges, including Harvard, Brown and MIT, are among those promising not to penalize applicants for participating in peaceful school walkouts. In stepping up for their potential future students, these universities have refused to stand in the way of progress. One by one, such colleges have affirmed their commitment to civic engagement, weighing in favor of a movement that promises to reshape the gun debate.
Brown University tweeted, ¨Expect a socially conscious, intellectually independent campus where freedom of expression is fundamentally important.¨
Backlash has been an expected and accepted part of social change across history; determined activists often find solace in the fact that their forerunners suffered greatly in the name of progress. Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, was arrested 29 times. But by choosing to protect, rather than punish, those students who are courageous enough to stand up for their lives, universities may be changing the game. After all, diversity of opinion, passion, and commitment to the community should be at the cornerstone of any institution-- and, hopefully, our country at large.
Malavika Kannan is a sixteen-year-old Indian American, metaphor enthusiast, and history junkie. She plans to major in International Politics in order to help make the world a better place. Malavika believes in female empowerment, Kurt Vonnegut novels, and, occasionally, herself.