Why Colleges Are Embracing the #NeverAgain Movement

As high-school students around the country organize in support of stronger gun-control legislation in the wake of the Parkland shooting, many are finding that, at the very least, one thing they don’t have to worry about is the possibility of disciplinary action hurting their chances of getting into college some day. Superintendents in some school districts have warned that students who participate will face disciplinary actions such as suspension. But over 250 college-admissions offices around the country have responded to these concerns, most of them with assurances that students’ activism will not hurt their chances at admission, even if their high schools do take disciplinary action.

Because college applicants must disclose whether they have ever been suspended from school or faced other disciplinary measures, many students have been concerned that colleges might rescind an acceptance or look unfavorably upon future applications. According to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), many member colleges have reported that large numbers of students have been calling admissions offices worried about the effect suspensions could have on their admissions prospects.

More here.


22 thoughts on “Why Colleges Are Embracing the #NeverAgain Movement

  1. Obviously doing things college administrators approve of won’t make them punish you. It’s like a 1930s southern sheriff using his discretion not to arrest some “good [white] boys” who beat up a black man. Contrast this news with the president of Emory vowing to use surveillance cameras to identify those who chalked Trump slogans on campus and discipline or criminally prosecute them. Free speech for me, but not for thee. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/03/emory-u-to-track-down-trump-supporting-chalkers.html


    1. Emory is a private institution well within its right to do that. If they can spare time from destroying them, Republicans can try to graffiti up public universities.


  2. @y81, from a brief search, it seems the effort to identify the chalkers was unsuccessful. It could also be that cooler heads prevailed after November, 2016. Then again, Emory’s endowment is large enough to be affected by the recent tax reform on endowments, so one could argue that declaring supporters of the party controlling two of the three branches of government to be criminals was not a wise action.

    As a private institution, it can do what it wants. Of course, I don’t see what the upside would be in angering at least half of the parents of high schoolers. As the political landscape becomes more polarized, lots of colleges end up on parents’ “do not apply/will not pay” lists. This is true for both sides. I know parents who chose not to look at any schools in the South, and those who chose not to look at any school “too liberal”/”too conservative”/”too artsy”/”too social.”

    Caveat emptor, after all. There are so many games played with admit rates, special programs and Early Decision (I, II, etc.), it’s only when it becomes impossible to fudge a drop in enrollment that the public would have an inkling that something has gone wrong.


    1. It’s good to know we’re all accepting of punitive taxation. Because I want to have two reasons to support putting the capital gains tax back to Carter administration levels.


      1. That’s like saying I’m in favor of winter when a blizzard happens. The taxation of large endowments is something proposed by multiple pundits and politicians over the years. That it happened under a Republican administration is a reason to follow current events for the irony factor. Nevertheless, it was then and is now excessively imprudent for college heads to be tying their fortunes to one side of the political spectrum. It isn’t as if there was a lot of support for protecting large endowments on the other side of the aisle. I’ve read multiple descriptions of Harvard, for example, as a hedge fund with a small college attached.


      2. It’s not irony. The Republican Party has largely accepted personal vendetta as a sufficient justification for public policy they way they accepted white nationalism as an acceptable partner in winning election. Either of those is sufficient justification for concluding that only the other side of the political spectrum is capable of providing the kind of open, stable, democratic government that allowed American universities to flourish.


    2. Well, Emory went on our “do not contribute” list after that disgraceful display. There are so many institutions that do believe in liberal values, it seems stupid and evil to subsidize those that don’t.


      1. Yep, that’s about the way this works. Somebody says something rash on campus and it’s “evil.” Actual Nazis march, some with weapons, through the streets of an American city and it’s “there are good people on both sides.”


  3. Uh, maybe they are embracing the #NeverAgain movement because they don’t want their students to be shot?

    BTW, I think we have to stop taking the bait of complaints about some misstep that might have occurred in some liberal institution or another — which appears to include all institutions not fully controlled by right wing conservatives. I want to keep my eyes focused on the policies I want and the steps we need to take to get there.

    For children getting shot, we’re hearing some rumblings that some republicans/conservatives might be moving to support Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Let’s see them pass some of those policies. That won’t change my mind about wanting to restrict access to guns (suicides are my biggest gun related public health concern). But, maybe the ERPOs will decrease school shootings, and that should be a goal we can all agree on. We can continue to discuss, and potentially add other options, and, If, ten years down the road, they don’t work, we can try yet other options. But doing nothing is not an acceptable solution to me. I’m not willing to accept the level of mass shootings without trying to experiment with ways to disrupt them. And, that’s what #neveragain means to me (and, I’m guessing, the institutions that support them).


  4. I think that skipping school for Never Again betrays the fact that kids don’t actually understand civics or how glacially slow and disappointing the legislative process is, especially for extremely controversial subjects. It demonstrates how badly they need their educations.

    Even if they get into college, some of these kids are going to have knowledge deficits, which will be become painfully obvious once they’re sitting in college trying to do first year calculus or some other weed-out course.

    I’d compare this to two different things:

    1. The hunger strikes that people used to do as protests when I was a kid. I was just looking at the Wikipedia article on Cesar Chavez:

    “In 1988, Chavez attempted another grape boycott, to protest the exposure of farmworkers to pesticides. Bumper stickers reading “NO GRAPES” and “UVAS NO” (the translation in Spanish) were widespread. However, the boycott failed. As a result, Chavez undertook what was to be his last fast. He fasted for 35 days before being convinced by others to start eating again. He lost 30 pounds during the fast, and it caused health problems that may have contributed to his death.”

    2. The effect of the Chinese Cultural Revolution on education–the chaos in school and universities stunted education for years.

    Those are worst case scenarios, but if kids skip enough school, they only thing they’re going to accomplish is hurting themselves.

    I also have a lot of concerns about supervision during activism.


  5. I have a HS senior applying to colleges and she’s received many assurances that if she attends the marches/protests, her acceptance will not be rescinded. (Of course, we are in Madison – where I suspect no disciplinary action will be taken, anyway.)

    AmyP, I disagree that a targeted protest means kids don’t understand civics. The kids in our community all were very involved in the Act 10 protests and it changed their lives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Wisconsin_protests

    They all have a much better understanding of the legislative process than I did at that age. The march from our high school to the state Capitol building is about a mile – and I don’t think it is wasted time. They have continued to march/protest to support education, voice concerns about police violence, and support immigration rights. (Most of our school is non-white.) I am happy to see them add a gun control march to the mix. Not only are they marching, but they are also going to city/state/county meetings and speaking directly to legislatures about their concerns.

    Laura – Vox just shared your “how much do professors work” article on FB! cool!


      1. oh, yes – please do! He was in Madison last week! For some reason, I adore him even though I fundamentally disagree with most of his positions on the one issue I care about most (education.)


  6. The problem with high school students protesting is not that they miss classes–how important is a day of high school classes anyway?–but that the students do not have the information or intellectual background to make intelligent political decisions. So their protests are entirely the product of manipulation by their parents and teachers. As America has undergone the big sort, such that most people live in politically monochrome neighborhoods, the children only hear one narrative. So evangelical kids have a “day of silence” on behalf of the unborn, and NYC private school kids have a “day of silence” on behalf of gay rights, and both are armored in self-righteousness.

    Sad to say, even when they go to college, they often don’t talk to each other. And to the extent that college administrations shut out or shut down certain political points of view, there is even less public discussion, though no less self-righteousness.


    1. That is very true – but I think there are exceptions. I have never attended a DACA/immigration protest – and have never manipulated my kids to do so. But due to the demographics of their schools, it is an issue very dear to their heart. They are more informed/intelligent on this issue than I am. I learn from them.

      And watching the high school kids in Florida now – I don’t think anyone can accuse them of being uninformed or unintelligent.


      1. To me, informed and intelligent would mean that one has read things like George Borjas (and his critics) on the economic effects of immigration, and Robert Putnam (and his critics) on the social effects of diversity, and Charles Taylor (and his critics) on multiculturalism. I doubt that very many high school students meet this test.

        Alternatively, informed and intelligent might mean that you have managed a household, held a job, raised a family etc. High school students don’t meet that test either.


    2. “The problem with high school students protesting is not that they miss classes–how important is a day of high school classes anyway?–but that the students do not have the information or intellectual background to make intelligent political decisions. So their protests are entirely the product of manipulation by their parents and teachers. ”

      This is, if you’ll forgive the word choice, rich.


  7. I see this as political training wheels. A teenager protest is going to be light weight for sure, but it is a good learning experience for them. The college administrators that I talked with were mostly just happy that they were going to read a new crop of college essays next year. I think they are bored with the usual “excellent sheep” applications that come across their desks.


  8. Our school has a large # of undocumented families and DACA kids. I’ve read Borjas and Putnam (many, many years ago – I have a masters in Intl Econ & worked at the World Bank/USAID at the start of my career when we lived in DC. – not anymore!)

    I still say I don’t have the same understanding that my kids do of this current DACA issue – because it affects some of their closest friends and they are in contact with the ramifications and the personal stories every day. When they get to college, they’ll read/study the experts. But I don’t discount their connections and experiences now. I think we need BOTH – the intellectual/informed adults and the energetic, connected teens (w/training wheels…) on all the issues: gun control, immigration, etc.


    1. For the most part, childhood experiences are not a good guide for political judgment. My wife lost her job due to the Volcker Rule, when the unit where she worked was shut down, but I would not encourage my daughter to think that this experience gives her a basis to form an opinion about Dodd-Frank. Certainly thoughts along the lines of “It’s unfair. My mom didn’t do anything wrong,” though understandable, should not guide public policy discussion.


  9. Really, saying that someone is not informed because they haven’t considered a point of view you consider to be relevant (and they don’t) is not reasonable. The DACA issue, as an example, need not be informed on any larger issues of imigration, but purely by a belief of compassion for a group of individuals that you care about. You can, without having read it, reasonably disregard arguments about which rates of imigration benefit a society. If a activist was making the argument that imigration benefits america and americans, the Borjas arguments might become relevant. But, if you are arguing that ejecting individuals who were brought to the united states by others, and who are

    Does, as an example, an anti-abortion activist, who believes that abortion is murder, have to read discussions and stories of the impact of making abortion illegal on everything from the women who die from illegal abortions to the analysis of higher crime rates that have been attributed to changes in abortion laws? Those aren’t relevant to a discussion of murder, unless one is further arguing that we decide whether murder should be illegal based on the effect it has on society (generally not a point of discussion, I think, expect potential by Ayn Randites).


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