MSU Admissions won't penalize prospective students for peaceful protesting
MSU Admissions will not penalize prospective or admitted students for having a disciplinary or criminal record for peacefully protesting, according to a statement released on MSU Admissions’ Twitter account.
In light of the recent protests against gun violence and other issues, a recent statement from James Cotter, the executive director of admissions and recruitment at MSU, said peaceful protests will not count against prospective and admitted students at MSU.
“Within the context of recent national discussions, ‘peaceful protest,’ a principal on which our nation was built, does not constitute as a threat,” the statement reads. “We treasure the freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the guiding principles of the U.S. Constitution.”
Cotter said in the wake of the Florida school shooting, The National Association for College Admission Counseling has had a great deal of discussion surrounding peaceful protests and how they could affect high school students’ admission or enrollment into a university.
“We simply wanted to reassure young people that finding their voice is an appropriate right within our country and that it would not negatively impact their admission if they, perhaps, get some sort of discipline for a peaceful protest,” Cotter said.
Cotter said there is talk of high school students being involved in peaceful protests and walkouts regarding gun control this month, like the March for Our Lives on March 24.
“I think students are just making certain that if they’re being involved with those sorts of efforts, that it isn’t going to somehow be negatively interpreted by the college or university that they plan to attend in the future,” Cotter said.
More than 100 colleges have expressed the same opinion regarding disciplinary action or suspensions among high school students for being involved in the #NeverAgain protests.
Cotter said students who apply to MSU must answer a series of questions regarding their criminal background.
“Our application requires a student to report any criminal charges that they may face or suspensions that may have occurred in their previous educational experiences,” Cotter said.
When filling out an MSU admission application, students are asked if they have any criminal offense convictions other than traffic violations, including guilty pleas and juvenile court proceedings, and if they have been expelled, suspended, disciplined or placed on probation.
Cotter said the MSU Office of Admissions then looks at the responses to the questions and decides whether or not the charges or suspensions pose a threat to the individual or the university community.
If a student is admitted and has a change to their criminal record prior to enrollment, they must inform the university of that change.
Cotter said MSU Admissions has decided peaceful protests will not pose a threat to the individual or the MSU community.
“We have received a tremendous amount of feedback from faculty, from deans, from current students and from prospective students in terms of appreciating the fact that we clarified that situation,” Cotter said. “Again, we were getting enough inquires that we felt it important to get that message out.”
A Google document that lists all of the responses from different colleges and universities across the nation is being widely circulated.
"Never expected this list to be so broadly read and circulated but happy it has been helpful," creator Chris Peterson wrote in the document. "It's been inspiring and exciting to see universities reaffirm the importance of civic engagement in (and through) education."
Peterson is a research affiliate for the Center for Civic Media at MIT and is on the Board of the National Coalition Against Censorship, according to his biography on the MIT Center for Civic Media website.
As of Thursday, the list will no longer be actively updated, according to the Google document.