Valley colleges tweet support for student protests in wake of Florida shooting

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) campus Courtesy photo

  • The new Hitchcock Center for the Environment building on the campus of Hampshire College.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — The Five Colleges have joined Boston College, MIT and other colleges and universities across the country to reassure prospective students that their activism would not cost them their admission.

University of Massachusetts Amherst, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College admissions offices each tweeted using the hashtag #ParklandStudentsSpeak, letting students know that they wouldn’t be penalized for discipline related to protests and walkouts against gun violence in the wake of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“#MountHolyoke students are social activists,” the Mount Holyoke admissions office tweeted Friday. “We support you fully as you lead peaceful demonstrations against gun violence. They will not negatively affect your #admission decision.”

The tweets come after a Texas school district threatened suspension to any student taking part in walkouts or protests, leading to worries that taking part in political activism could negatively affect college admissions.

“Students: If you participate in peaceful protests against gun violence and receive school discipline for walking out, staging your protest, etc., please rest assured that you can report it to UMass Amherst, and we won’t hold it against you,” UMass reassured applicants via Twitter Thursday.

Smith College dean of admissions Deb Shaver tweeted her support from her personal account.

“To students worried about disciplinary action for getting suspended for standing up for your beliefs: we’ve got you on this side. #Smith2022,” Shaver wrote.

Amherst College tweeted Sunday morning that First Amendment rights are among the most prized of the college’s values.

“The college encourages all students to engage in civil and meaningful discourse on issues of critical importance,” the college tweeted.

The school included a link with further information on the college’s position. The school assured prospective students they would consider the unique circumstances of any reported disciplinary action related to civic engagement.

“Peaceful protest has never been a reason for a student to be denied admission or to have an offer be rescinded,” the college posted on its Facebook page.

Hampshire College tweeted Sunday evening that the school would not penalize students for exercising their rights to freedom of expression.

“We support students' rights to exercise freedom of expression and participate in peaceful protest,” the college tweeted.