By Katie Ward
The Catholic University of America has joined the nearly 300 other universities that have pledged to not hold the disciplinary records of prospective students, who have been penalized for peacefully protesting gun violence, against their application status.
Student protests across the country have developed in an unprecedented magnitude since the February 14th Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which was the third deadliest school shooting in American history. Student survivors from the shooting started a “Never Again” campaign that has found an audience of like-minded teenage students across the country.
In a February 23rd tweet, Christopher Lydon, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Marketing, said: “To our current applicants and prospective future applicants – Catholic University supports students who choose to stand up for their beliefs. #ParklandStudentsSpeak”.
Catholic University’s and CUA Admissions’ official Twitter accounts retweeted the tweet, which was met with some questioning due to its lack of a definite commitment to not penalize student applicants who have participated in peaceful protests.
James Dewey-Rosenfeld, the university’s dean of undergraduate admissions, supported Lydon’s statement and said that it reflected the official stance of the Office of Undergraduate Admission.
“Peaceful protests during marches or walkouts will not negatively impact an applicant’s admission decision or an incoming student’s admission status with the University,” he told The Tower.
Lydon’s tweet and the university’s endorsement of it put the university on the National Association of College Admissions Counseling’s growing list of 293 universities that have made statements promising support of applicants who have received disciplinary backlash from their schools for participating in peaceful protests. The list includes multiple Ivy League schools and many Catholic institutions, including Villanova University, Boston College, and Georgetown University.
The public statements and tweets from Catholic University were posted only a month before thousands of students will march on the capital with the “March For Our Lives” campaign. The GoFundMe page, created by one of the Parkland students, raised almost $3.3 million in 22 days, and $2.7 million in first week alone. Half of the proceeds will go to the march, taking place next Saturday, March 24th, and half will go to relief for the families of the Parkland victims.
A petition on the march’s website calls for a ban of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and closing the loophole in gun sales that allows criminals to buy guns. The mission statement opens with “Not one more. We cannot allow one more child to be shot at school. We cannot allow one more teacher to make a choice to jump in front of a firing assault rifle to save the lives of students. We cannot allow one more family to wait for a call or text that never comes. Our schools are unsafe. Our children and teachers are dying. We must make it our top priority to save these lives.”
The university’s recent sign of support will assure any prospective Catholic students marching in D.C. that their right to peacefully protest is protected.