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If you’re a student disciplined for a gun protest, BU and MIT say it won’t hurt your chances

The MIT dome.Christopher Harting / MIT/MIT

Admissions officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Thursday that if college applicants are disciplined for leaving class and joining in on the growing number of national high school protests against gun violence, it won’t negatively affect their chances of getting into the renowned Cambridge school.

As students frustrated with a lack of gun control measures mobilize in the wake of the deadly Parkland, Fla., school shooting last week, which killed 17 people, some high schools across the country have threatened to suspend those who participate in the walkouts.


Student demonstrations called “March For Our Lives” are scheduled to take place across the country on March 24, including in Boston.

According to the fine print on MIT’s admissions letters, the school has “the right to revoke or defer your offer of admission” if an applicant’s conduct results in any disciplinary action such as a suspension.

But Stu Schmill, MIT’s dean of admissions and student financial services, wanted to put the worries of MIT hopefuls to rest, saying, in effect: Go ahead, join in.

“Some students who have been admitted to MIT’s Class of 2022 have asked us if their acceptance will be rescinded if they are disciplined for joining the protests, while other applicants still under consideration are wondering if they have to choose between speaking out and getting in,” he wrote in a blog post Thursday. “We have already informed those who asked that, in this case, a disciplinary action associated with meaningful, peaceful participation in a protest will not negatively impact their admissions decision.”

Schmill said that if a student is suspended or disciplined for being part of the protests, they are still required to report it to MIT officials.


However, he said, because the school does not “view such conduct on its face as inappropriate . . . or anything we wouldn’t applaud amongst our own students,” their futures won’t be hindered by becoming part of the national movement.

MIT is not the only school letting students know that their urge to express their concerns about gun violence and exercise their First Amendment rights won’t put a black mark on their college dreams.

Andrew B. Palumbo, dean of admissions and financial aid at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, tweeted Thursday that “students applying to WPI will not be penalized” for speaking out against gun violence.

Deb Shaver, Smith College’s dean of admissions, also spoke out on the issue.

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

Officials from the UMass Amherst Office of Undergraduate Admissions took a similar stance Thursday.

“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,” the school’s admissions office said. “And we won’t hold it against you.”

Boston University’s own admissions office joined the chorus of schools supporting students “who thoughtfully and respectfully exercise their freedom of expression,” according to a statement released Friday.

“We want to reassure students who have already been admitted to BU or whose applications are currently under review, that your admission to Boston University will not be jeopardized should your school levy a penalty for participating in such protests,” Kelly A. Walter, associate vice president for enrollment, and dean of admissions, said.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.