Washington College has released a statement that Admissions will not penalize admitted students for their engagement with peaceful protests in response to the ongoing gun control debate.
In the statement, released on Tuesday, Feb. 27, the College said it was “founded on the principles of moral courage, civic engagement, and a commitment to action. We applaud students’ willingness to put their futures in jeopardy in order to stand up for their beliefs.”
“We generally are always thoughtful about when the College takes a stand,” said President Kurt Landgraf. “We need to be sort of apolitical in what we do. However, the College is built on some very important values. Moral courage is one of them. To punish students, as you know is happening at some institutions, for peaceful nonviolent protesting in any way goes against who we are as an institution.”
The protests, which have picked up momentum after the latest mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day, have been widespread in participation across the country.
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, the protests came close to campus. Kent County’s middle and high school held a “Walk-Out for Unity” to honor the 17 students who were killed in the shooting in Florida. According to the Kent County News, the middle school students joined hands and formed a circle around the school as an act of solidarity.
Larger protests and rallies are planned for later this year, such as March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24 in Washington D.C. On Friday, April 20, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, another national walkout is planned.
Supporting the students’ protests is the right thing to do, Landgraf said.
“This is an area where you can’t just say that you care about moral courage, that you respect free speech and then not reassure that we mean what we say,” he said. “That’s why I really love the fact that Lorna [Hunter, vice president for enrollment] put that out. It puts a stake in the ground. It says, ‘This is what we stand for.’”