Political protesting won't affect admissions status at Iowa universities

All three public universities in Iowa have confirmed that disciplinary action stemming from non-violent political protests will not affect a student’s admissions status. Several private colleges have similar policies, their staff told Bleeding Heartland.

The February 14 massacre of seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has sparked a national wave of student walkouts or other protests seeking stronger regulations on firearms ownership and sales. Some Des Moines students held a political rally for gun safety measures during school hours on March 1, as pictured below.

Many higher education institutions around the country have responded with public statements assuring students that participating in such actions won’t hurt their chances of being admitted. The first comment along those lines that I saw in our state was a February 24 Facebook post by Iowa State University’s Office of Admissions:

A message to Future Cyclones: Iowa State University values the honest and respectful expression of ideas by both its current and prospective students. Disciplinary action associated with peaceful participation in non-violent protests will not affect your admission status.

The University of Northern Iowa posted on Twitter February 26,

To future Panthers:
The University of Northern Iowa values the right of current and prospective students to honestly and respectfully express ideas. Disciplinary action associated with peaceful participation in non-violent protest will not affect your admission status.

The University of Iowa has similarly assured those who inquired,

The University of Iowa respects and values the right to peacefully protest. Admission to UI will not be negatively affected for prospective students participating in non-violent activism.

I sought comment from admissions offices at more than two dozen private colleges or universities in Iowa several days ago. Grinnell College was first to respond, saying they view civic engagement as a plus:

Grinnell receives thousands of applications for admission every year from the most qualified students across the nation and around the world. Through a holistic process of review, we consider each applicant’s demonstrated commitments to academic excellence, diversity, and social change. We would never penalize a prospective student for peaceful public protest. Indeed, we reward students in the application process who have used their voices to address important social problems.
-Joe Bagnoli, Vice President for Enrollment/Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Communications staff for Upper Iowa University in Fayette told me, “Admission decisions at Upper Iowa University are not affected by any student’s decision to engage in meaningful and peaceful protest.”

Most of the other schools have not replied, though an administrator at Morningside College in Sioux City told me over the phone that peaceful political protest would not affect a student’s chances of being admitted there.

I will update this post as needed if I hear back from other Iowa institutions.

UPDATE: I received this statement after publishing. “Drake University supports civil discourse and advocacy, regardless of perspective. This stands true for applicants going through our admission review process, as well. We are guided by the shared ideals of the academy and our own Statement of Principles.”

MARCH 5 UPDATE: A representative of Coe College in Cedar Rapids sent me this statement from the admissions office.

Please know that a student’s participation in peaceful protest and/or civil action will not jeopardize his or her admission outcome or scholarship at Coe College. If you have applied or been admitted to our college and receive disciplinary action because of your peaceful protest, please be assured that you are supported and your enrollment at Coe College will not be adversely impacted.

Photographs by Phil Roeder from a March 1 walkout at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, used with permission. You can view much more of Roeder’s outstanding photography on Flickr.

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