Last Saturday, Illinois State University tweeted, “Illinois State University would like to assure high school students that disciplinary action associated with their participation in peaceful protests will not impact their admission to the University in any way.”
When people think of protests, they think of riots and looting, however, that is not always the case. Many people involve themselves in peaceful protests that have a goal to make some type of change within their community or in the nation. These protesters include high schoolers, but many believe being involved in protests is a bad move for their future.
Illinois State is taking the first step in ensuring that future Redbirds who decide to be involved in peaceful protests will not be penalized for issues they are passionate about. Many high schoolers are becoming more involved in social justice simply because injustice in the United States is an ongoing issue, and they realize social activism is something they are interested in.
High schoolers often joke about ruining their reputation or doing things that end up on their “permanent record,” and while these things can be true, social activism is no longer one of those issues they must be worried about.
As social activism in teens is growing, so is the love for making change and that is an important quality future Redbirds should have. There may be an act of injustice on ISU’s campus, and students that are interested in social justice and activism are needed. So, to tell high schoolers to not be involved is taking away their passion to possibly change the lives of those around them, and the world.
Being involved in peaceful protests can reflect values that are important to the student. Civic responsibility is something that should be important to institutions because it’s best learned through actions and actual participation in events throughout the community.
Institutions should want to admit students who care about the common good of others, not only because it helps build character throughout the university, but because it teaches other students the importance of wanting to make a change.
ISU took a brave first step to no longer hold students back from becoming Redbirds because of their involvement in peaceful protests, and this should be something implemented in institutions around the nation.
Fortunately, many other schools have implemented this decision, such as California Institute of Technology, DePaul University, Smith College, Trinity College in Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This means many universities are realizing there is no correlation between students participating in peaceful protests and their role as a student.
There has been a lot of violence happening in the nation recently, so it is impossible to not expect students to want to speak out and help others get the justice they deserve.
Students have every right to exercise their freedom of expression, and being involved in peaceful protests is the best way for students to do so and all institutions should realize this and implement this change.