Incoming freshmen organize school walkouts protesting gun violence
AU admissions said pending applications would not be affected
Several incoming freshmen have participated in school walkouts protesting gun violence across the U.S., and AU’s admissions department has expressed their support for prospective students “engaging in peaceful and lawful protests.”
AU Admissions released a statement on Feb. 24 informing accepted or prospective students with pending applications that their admission status will not be affected if they face disciplinary action due to protesting.
Abigail Morris, an accepted student attending AU in the fall, organized three walkouts at her high school in Amherst, Massachusetts. Morris also organized a solidarity march supporting those affected by the Trump administration after the election in November 2016.
The most recent of her protests took place on March 14, featured a march in Amherst protesting the semi-automatic weapon regulations. The participants stood outside for 17 minutes to honor the lives of the 17 students who died in the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students across the country are also planning walkouts on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colorado.
“We’re trying to get teachers to come out, this is an issue that really affects teachers with people saying we should arm teachers,” Morris said.
Morris does not expect any disciplinary action to be taken against the students or the teachers, as there haven’t been any in the past.
“I think that they understand that this is us using our right to free speech and using our right to protest,” Morris said, referring to AU’s statement of support.
Even if AU had not released the statement, Morris said that she would continue to protest as it is important to her to make her voice heard.
“It makes me really proud to be an AU student next year because I know that the administration is on my side with this,” Morris said.
Becky Whitney, an accepted student with an intended major in the School of Public Affairs, also organized a walkout at her school in Westwood, Massachusetts. She spoke with her school’s administration and local authorities about logistics and safety during the walkout.
Whitney said her high school supports the walkout and would like their students to be civically engaged.
“I know for a lot of kids who got accepted, myself included, it helps us realize AU was the right choice because they want us to go out in the real world and be engaged,” Whitney said.
She said that she would think twice about attending AU if they did not support a student’s right to protest as she believes that this can repress their thoughts and passions.
Hannah Andress, an accepted student with an intended major in the School of International Service, has no experience in planning protests, but wanted to get involved after the Parkland shooting. Andress created her own event inspired by the Action Network, a platform managed by the creators of the Women’s March.
Unlike the other students interviewed by The Eagle, Andress is facing potential disciplinary action from her high school for her protest.
“It was all good until my superintendent from my county released a statement saying he would not support our right to peacefully gather,” Andress said. “So, my principal cannot support it either and now everyone that is participating is facing disciplinary action.”
Andress said that AU is her dream school and it might affect her decision to protest if a disciplinary action from her high school affected her acceptance to the University.
“I don’t know that I could go to a college that didn’t support my right to use my voice and stand up for something I believed in,” Andress said.