The Reflection

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Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College release statements regarding walkouts

Kalamazoo College students gather on the Quad. Photo courtesy Kalamazoo College.

In the wake of various student movements forming in response to the Parkland school shooting, local postsecondary institutions have made their positions on the potential protests clear.

Western Michigan University (WMU) tweeted a statement assuring students that their admission will not be affected in any way should they be subject to disciplinary action as a result of peaceful protest. Kalamazoo (K) College released a similar statement via email to incoming students, the subject line reading “K honors your First Amendment Rights.”

Both schools emphasized that the peaceful mobilization of today’s youth is not only acceptable, but encouraged.

“To every high school student who chooses to lead or participate in a peaceful demonstration as a means to share their beliefs, we say stand strong and proud,” the statement from K College read.

This email was drafted by Dean of Admission and Financial Aid, Eric Staab, who first heard about high school student

Eric Staab, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid at Kalamazoo College. Photo courtesy Keith Mumma.

walkouts from his daughter, a senior at Kalamazoo Central High School.

“Then I heard about high schools around the country mobilizing and some students facing disciplinary action,” Staab said. “Kalamazoo College wants our applicants and admitted students to know our long-standing practice regarding high school disciplinary actions and the peaceful and respectful expression of First Amendment rights.”

Although K College has yet to receive any notices from applicants experiencing disciplinary action or concerns about how this may affect their admission, Staab expressed that it was important to clarify the school’s policy, especially in response to a required question on the Common Application. This question reads as follows:

“Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution you have attended from the 9th grade (or the international equivalent) forward, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in disciplinary action?”

Kalamazoo College’s email went out to potential and admitted students Feb 27.

According to Staab, applicants are required to report any disciplinary violations that may have occurred prior to enrolling at Kalamazoo College, even after admission. However, disciplinary violations suffered as a result of peaceful protest have never affected admission to K.

“It has been our long-term practice at Kalamazoo College that your application for admission to Kalamazoo College will not be in jeopardy should your school discipline you for freely expressing your First Amendment rights in a peaceful and respectful manner,” the email said.

WMU’s tweet echoed these sentiments. 

WMU’s tweet was released on their @WesternMichU account on Feb 26.

“Your WMU admission will not be affected in any way by disciplinary action associated with participation in peaceful protest or respectful exercise of your freedom of expression,” it read. “We encourage students to engage in meaningful, informed, and civil discourse around important and sometimes difficult issues.”

With prominent protests planned for March 14, April 20, and so on, K and WMU were quick to provide reassurance to students hesitant to participate and risk their educational futures.

“The recent actions of today’s youth demonstrate that this is an energized and vocal generation,” Staab said.  “I’m thrilled to see it.”

 

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Sydney Rotigel-Finegan
I'm a senior and an OG student journalist (meaning I did it last year), but seeing as I love all things writing and current events, I figured I ought to combine the two and earn my journalism-legs. I tend to write what I'm passionate about (don't we all), whcih includes art, social issues, politics, entertainment, etc. My articles are primarily features and opinions. (Update: They're still features and opinions. Everything I write turns feature-y. Help.)

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