The high school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 sparked a national conversation about gun control. The current debate is one of the most heated since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. However, the Parkland shooting was different in that it affected high school students.
While the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting were too young to become advocates for gun control, the victims of the shooting in Parkland are mostly in their late teens and are energized by what happened to them. They spoke to President Donald Trump directly, and are planning a march on Washington called “March for our Lives,” scheduled to take place on March 24.
The actions of those victims have inspired high school students from across the country to take part in protests. A popular form of protest is the “walk-out,” in which students will leave class to protest, in this case, gun violence.
Many colleges and universities have made a point of stating that participation in a walk-out will not affect admission. An official statement was posted on LSU’s official Twitter account Monday regarding the University’s stance.
“A note to all #LSU applicants and admitted students: LSU makes admission decisions based on academic, leadership, and service records. Unless all of these are severely affected, it is unlikely a walk-out will alter admission to the university,” LSU said via twitter.
Shortly after the tweet was posted, Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle replied directly to the tweet.
“Can we not do better than this?” Earle said via Twitter.
Can we not do better than this?— Dean Earle (@LSUOgdenDean) February 26, 2018
LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard said the wording of the statement was meant to indicate how a walk-out could affect admission standards indirectly.
“As the tweet stated, decisions are made based on academic, leadership and service, so as an example, if a student walks out and misses an exam, then that affects GPA, it could affect admission,”
Ballard said. “We don’t review disciplinary records, but that could be a by-product that could affect it."
Other colleges have made more concrete statements guaranteeing walk-outs will not affect admission. Research Affiliate at the MIT Center for Civic Media Chris Peterson compiled a list of colleges that have made this guarantee which, at the time of writing, includes over 200 schools. LSU is on this list, but it is set apart from other schools because Peterson felt its statement was unclear. Only seven of the 200 schools listed are separated due to failure to clarify their statements.
Tulane University released a statement that walk-outs will not affect their admission decisions in a Feb. 22 blog post written by Tulane Director of Admission Jeff Schiffman.
“We believe that students should never lose their voice or passion,” Schiffman said in the blog post. “We will not penalize students for standing up for what they believe or for making opinions known through peaceful protests. We will continue to support the voice and speech of young adults as this is, ultimately, why we are here.”
LSU’s statement also received criticism from its own students.
“I think that stating it in this way just adds confusion toward whether it will or will not affect admission,” said biology freshman Parker Lawrence. “This tweet just gives the university more power to discriminate against students during admission by creating another ambiguous category to judge us by.”
As an alumni, I *know* you can do better than this.— Tiriel (@TirielWoW) February 28, 2018
Earle praised the tweets from other universities, and said he would have released a strongly-worded, more definitive statement.
“That’s how I would do it if I were in charge of communications. Just say something. Be clear about it," Earle said. "Because then you have to walk back and clarify. Because I think our admissions office has essentially the same policy as Tulane, but then you’re writing stories and I’m sure they’re not."