Harvard says it will not penalize applicants disciplined for participating in protests

The Johnston Gate at Harvard Yard in Cambridge.
The Johnston Gate at Harvard Yard in Cambridge.CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

Harvard says it will not penalize high school applicants who face disciplinary action for participating in walkouts and “other forms of peaceful protest,” joining MIT, Boston University, UMass-Amherst, and other schools that have recently taken a similar stance on student activism.

Harvard Senior Admissions Officer Bryce Gilfillian sent a statement to alumni after the school received several inquiries from applicants concerned about what being disciplined for their activism would mean for their Harvard acceptance.

Some high schools around the country have threatened students with suspension if they take part in school walkouts demanding stronger gun-control policies in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead.


“The mission of Harvard College is to provide a deeply transformative liberal arts and sciences education that will prepare our students for a life of citizenship and leadership,” the statement from Gilfillian read. “As always, those who engage responsibly in exercising their rights and freedoms would not have their chances of admission compromised.”

Classes at Stoneman Douglas resume on Wednesday, but students returned to the school Sunday for the first time since the Feb. 14 massacre. Admistrators have organized a “phased reopening” of the school.

The young survivors have been tireless since the shootings -- organizing protests, vigils, speaking out on television and on social media. Students at other high schools across the country have held walkouts in solidarity with Stoneman Douglas and other victims of school gun violence.

Student-led demonstrations called “March For Our Lives” have been scheduled around the country on March 24, including one in Boston.

Cristela Guerra can be reached at cristela.guerra@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristelaGuerra.