Staff editorial: Tulane must support student activism before, after admission

In a recent wave of student activism following the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, high school students across the nation are standing up and speaking out about gun violence and safety in their schools and communities.

While some school districts and counties have threatened discipline and discouraged students from engaging in protests during school, a string of university admissions offices have offered support for these high school students, assuring them that their activism will not affect any potential college admissions decisions.

Last Thursday, Tulane joined the ranks of these universities when Director of Admission Jeff Schiffman announced in a blog post that Tulane would not penalize any applicants for protesting peacefully.

Freedom of speech and the right to protest are pillars of a democratic society. As the eyes and ears of the Tulane community, The Hullabaloo depends on the voices and actions of those in our community to both inform and engage with our coverage. It is in this spirit that we admire the work of high school student activists and commend the announcement from Tulane’s Office of Admission.

It is critical, however, to acknowledge that the widespread student activism we are seeing in Parkland and around the country is not an anomaly. It is the product of and the precursor to a series of movements — small and large, literal and figurative — that represent groups of courageous people coming together and advocating for the causes that matter most to them.

Tulane applicants involved in community organizing are a great sign for the future of democracy. Those applicants are also sure to be beneficial to Tulane, an institution that has boasted its commitment to diversity in both its student body and in its breadth of ideas, experiences and perspectives.

But these trends did not start with the brave students in Parkland, and they will not end with the thousands of high school students who are working toward justice. Many of these sorts of student activists are already here, and they deserve Tulane’s support as well.

Students across campus have been tirelessly organizing for years. Such activists have played critical roles in the history of this university, pushing for desegregation, advocating for new programs and policies, and promoting acceptance on campus. And while they have always been granted their rights to protest, their efforts have too often been pushed into the backdrop or framed as a struggle between students and administrators.

Tulane has admirably offered its support and solidarity to high school students exercising their rights to peacefully protest. These students undoubtedly deserve Tulane’s backing, and we sincerely hope that many of them will soon become members of the Tulane community, which could benefit greatly from their passion and unwavering commitment to pursue what they believe in.

We also hope that these students’ enthusiasm for action does not end here and that they consider joining one of the many Tulane student organizations that are doing this work courageously and regularly. Whether they are meeting in classrooms or gathering on the quad, these organizations are eager to welcome people who want to engage in peaceful activism of all forms.

Most of all, though, we urge Tulane to do no less for current students than it has done for potential incoming students by advocating for and standing with members of the Tulane community who are demanding better for themselves and their peers.

Staff Editorials are written weekly by members of the Tulane Hullabaloo Board and approved by the full Board by a 2/3 majority vote.

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