Peacefully protesting won’t hurt your admissions chances at Eckerd College, UF or UM

LARA CERRI | TimesCameron Feiler, 18, sings in the annual Ceremony of Lights for incoming students at Eckerd College's McArthur Gymnasium Friday, August 11, 2017.
LARA CERRI | TimesCameron Feiler, 18, sings in the annual Ceremony of Lights for incoming students at Eckerd College's McArthur Gymnasium Friday, August 11, 2017.
Published February 26 2018
Updated February 26 2018

Protest all you want. (Peacefully, anyway.) Even if you get disciplined, it won't hurt your chances of getting into Eckerd College.

On Monday, the small liberal arts college in St. Petersburg joined a wave of other higher education institutions in reassuring students that peaceful protest is a right, one that has been exercised by countless high school students in the days since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

"Eckerd College joins many colleges and universities across the nation to assure and support all applicants in their right to peaceful protest; disciplinary actions taken by the school as a result will have no impact on the admission process," read a tweet on the school's Twitter account.

It continued: "Eckerd's approach to liberal arts education embraces students becoming informed citizens and freely expressing their viewpoints in local, state and national conversations."

The tweet was crafted by Eckerd's office of admissions and approved by President Donald Eastman III.

"It's how the college feels, and and we want to be very supportive of students around the country who are trying to exercise their right to free speech," said spokeswoman Robbyn Hopewell.

Other schools have come forward, too.

The University of Florida said participating in protests won't count as a negative, and that discipline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

And the University of Miami said this to TIME magazine:

"The University of Miami requires that student applicants disclose discipline as part of its admission process. This said, universities are places where students gain knowledge and insight, and we support and respect the views of our students," spokeswoman Megan Ondrizek said. "The University of Miami will not punish a student applicant if, after review on case-by-case basis, the Admission Committee determines they have been disciplined while exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression while in peaceful protest of an issue, such as gun violence."

In 2016, Eckerd adopted a statement underscoring the value of free speech on campus and emphasizing the value of debate. Don't expect the college to limit free expression, it said.

"Without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a college ceases to be a college," the statement read.

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