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Photo by Kristina Soetje.

UMBC assures student admissions will not be affected by peaceful protests

The UMBC Admissions office has made an official statement on Feb. 26 stating that participating in peaceful protests will not affect admission chances.

“Participation in peaceful protests and demonstrations in support of important social issues will not negatively affect admissions decisions,” UMBC said.

The statement is in response to threats of suspension if high schoolers choose to demonstrate during school hours. High schools have the right to punish students if they protest during school hours.

Many prospective college students raised concerns over whether disciplinary action would affect their chances of admission at UMBC. Many high schoolers have contacted UMBC asking if a demonstration could harm their admission chances.

“We have people calling the front office and wanting to know. These students wanted to understand the implications if any disciplinary action was taken against them,” said Assistant Vice Provost Dale Bittinger.

The announcement that peaceful protest will not harm admission chances does not reflect a change in UMBC’s admissions policy. The admission’s office has always accounted for the extenuating circumstances behind any disciplinary action.

“No, it’s not a change in our policy,” said Bittinger. “We always had a policy that allowed us to look at individual circumstances surrounding any disciplinary action issued against a student.”

In assuring prospective college students, UMBC has joined 236 other colleges across the country. UMBC published the statement on the official Facebook page, undergraduate website and the UMBC Admissions & Orientation Twitter account. The stance UMBC has taken has garnered positive reception, with 48 likes on Facebook and 14 likes on Twitter.

“I think it speaks to the characteristics UMBC wants to see in their upcoming class of students,” said Jackson Pugliese, a freshman physics major. ”It is noble that schools are sending the message that it is okay to stand up for what they believe.”

UMBC’s statement comes before several protest walkouts that aim to raise awareness. On March 14, “Enough” will occur, where at least 33,000 students have planned to walk out of school for 17 minutes. At 1,965 high schools, students plan to leave class and make their voices heard.

“The recent events in Florida have really led to students wanting to take action, [to] have a voice through protest and demonstrations,” said Bittinger. “And so quite simply, it’s important for us to support our students who want to be change agents.That’s really what this is about, too.”

Walkouts and marches are not the only ways students are making their voice heard. On social media, students are posting with the hashtag “NeverAgain.” Cameron Kasky, a survivor of the parkland shooting, created the #neveragain movement. The goal of the movement is to raise awareness and increase gun regulations to prevent future school shootings.

“UMBC is committed to inclusive excellence, social justice and freedom of expression,” according to the statement. These values hold true as no student will lose their spot here at UMBC because they were disciplined in school for choosing to peacefully protest for what they believed in.

“We value different thoughts and perspectives and matters, and we really believe in social justice,” said Bittinger.