“As long as you follow the guidelines and do not cause a disruption, you will NOT be punished.” These were the words written on a flyer in the halls of Grayson High School, Loganville, GA according to senior Shreya Sharma.
In the wake of the new prevalent dialogue regarding the issue of gun violence, students across the nation have all united in a collective assembly of peaceful protest by staging school walkouts. Grayson is just one of many schools who have agreed to participate in the national Walk Out on March 14th. This is exactly one month after the Parkland Shooting, and many high schools alongside have declared that they will not grant any sort of punishment to those who participate in the Walk Out, even though it is in the middle of the day. Nevertheless, some high schools and counties have threatened to discipline those who participate in the walkout, regardless of the fact that it is a peaceful and does no harm to anyone on the premises.
Even colleges have joined in the effort, by issuing statements of solidarity to their applicants, assuring students who apply to their institution that any discipline received as a result of these walkouts will not affect their admission. Among these colleges include Lehigh University, Macalester College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pomona College, and other highly acclaimed and accredited universities. Surprisingly enough, my college, Claremont McKenna College, is not among these schools. The associate vice president of public affairs and communications, Peter Hong, was questioned regarding this. He answered by quoting one of CMC’s core policies. “In cases of a student self-reporting (as required on our application) prior conduct sanctions of any nature, we follow our normal protocol to review the matter and consider the student’s overall character, the reason for the conduct sanction, and the student’s explanation of their behavior. In this specific, hypothetical context, the College would be further guided by our core commitment to the freedom of expression.”
Though this is not directly inferring that anyone who participates will not be considered, it proves that the school is not encouraging any behavior that will result in the school having to investigate the source of the behavior. However, they do still understand the student’s 1st amendment rights, and will most likely consider the applicant, but does not want to publically condone the act of the Walk Out.
CMC is not alone with their view of not having submitted a statement. Thousands of colleges refuse to sign a statement, some align with CMC’s ideology, others just ignorantly declare a no-tolerance rule on disciplinary actions on your application. In either case, I think it isn’t necessarily fair to those students, who are choosing to stand up and commemorate those who have lost their lives, and further the fight against gun violence. Of course this could never be fixed overnight. It wouldn’t even be able to be fixed within the next couple of years in this society.
But it starts here.
It starts with the cooperation of the government and gun laws. It starts with punishing all criminals the same, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, homosexuality, social class, wealth, etc. It starts with understanding that this is something that we have to stand up for, not just in this critical time when the wounds are still fresh. It is a common habit within the political climate of our current society to hear of an injustice, tragedy, etc, and only fight it for a couple of weeks before moving on to the next ‘atrocity.’ We have to stay consistent and follow through with our fights, protests, and campaigns. Maybe then, this Walk Out will be taken more seriously and, there would be no question or concern of punishment.