There’s a national conversation going on right now concerning the rights of high school students to engage in protests and to exercise freedom of speech. The immediate cause is the student reaction to the tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students have become ardent, urgent advocates for gun control legislation, and have challenged politicians at all levels to do the right thing and reject the corrupting influence of the National Rifle Association.
Some people have criticized the students for being “disrespectful” and have called for disciplinary action. Some students are afraid that if they walk out of classes or engage in peaceful protests they might get suspended or expelled from high school, and they fear this might have a harmful effect on their applications to college.
Let me be clear about Trinity’s policy: Trinity welcomes all courageous students who stand for justice, and we will never take a negative admissions action because a student has exercised the right to free speech and expression. Moreover, Trinity’s long history tells us that Trinity students and graduates have never hesitated to “disturb the peace” when glaring injustice demands our voices and our action. Challenging authorities who are corruptly using their power in ways that jeopardize the health and very lives of children is an expression of clear commitment to social justice.
Trinity joins hundreds of other colleges and universities in supporting the Parkland students and others who are demanding a change in the nation’s gun laws. They are the future leaders of this nation and deserve respect and admiration for their courage.