Luther responds to #NeverAgain

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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On Feb. 26 Luther released a statement in support of high school students participating in the #NeverAgain movement.

“Luther College applauds students’ expression of their beliefs and supports active citizenship,” the statement read. “We want to assure students that participating in peaceful protest does not jeopardize your admission to Luther College, even if you are disciplined or suspended. Our socially conscious community is fully committed to developing whole persons who are equipped to understand and confront a changing society.”

The #NeverAgain movement began in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting in Parkland, Florida which resulted in 17 deaths and 14 injuries after a former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on Feb. 14. Since then, high school students have worked to nationally organize walkouts in support of gun control and in memory of the victims of mass shootings.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, over 250 other colleges around the country have expressed their support of the movement as well, including Harvard, Yale, and MIT, in the wake of many high schools threatening to discipline participating students.

According to Vice President for Enrollment Management Scot Schaeffer, the statement was released to clarify Luther’s position for incoming students.

“Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as students started planning peaceful protests, colleges across the country, including Luther, started receiving questions from prospective students,” Schaeffer said. “They were asking if the college’s offer of admissions would be rescinded if the student participated in a peaceful protest and was suspended by their high school.”

Many Luther students have responded positively to the statement online and see it as a sign of encouragement to incoming Luther students to express their beliefs.

“I think that it’s really encouraging to see that coming from the higher-ups in Luther, just because they’re supporting people that stand up for what they believe in and that’s really important in today’s society,” student Abby Leblanc (‘20) said. “The younger generation really needs to step up and have their voices be heard, and this [statement] is encouraging that.”

Other students feel similarly, but are also concerned about high school students potentially taking advantage of the college’s support and misusing their right to protest.

“It’s really cool that Luther has decided to give students this kind of opportunity to express themselves and go out and support their beliefs, but I do think that Luther should have some sort of interview with the students that decide to [protest] to make sure that their intentions were genuine and they weren’t trying to use it as an excuse to get out of their classes or to seem cool in a certain sense,” said Mary Flaherty (‘20). “But I think for the most part, Luther supporting future students is awesome.”

Schaeffer also noted mixed reactions in response to the statement.

“The statement was emailed to prospective students and posted on Luther’s social media channels,” Schaeffer said. “We have heard from prospective students, parents, alumni and friends who welcomed knowing Luther’s position on this question, some agreed with the decision and others did not.”

Many marches and events have been held in response to the shooting already, but the first national walkout is lead by the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organization on March 14. More than 185,00 students are expected to participate in this seventeen-minute walkout on the one month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. There will also be a ‘March for Our Lives’ held in Washington D.C. and many cities around the country on March 24.

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