Activism support at IU appreciated


(Bloomington) Herald-Times

Good for Indiana University officials for sending out this Tweet:

“For all our future Hoosiers: At IU, we encourage students to engage in meaningful, informed and civil discourse regarding difficult and important issues. Disciplinary action associated with participation in peaceful protest will not affect your admission decision in any way.”

Peaceful protest by high school students has emerged as the silver lining to the very dark cloud that was the Valentine’s Day shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Some high school administrators around the country have defended their students’ right to protest, while others have threatened disciplinary action.

IU’s action makes clear which side it’s on.

IU asks applicants if they have been subject to formal disciplinary action for any reason, though disclosure of such action is not always cause for being denied entrance to IU.

The message on Twitter was to reassure students that participation in peaceful protests even if it results in a disciplinary action won’t affect their admissions status.

That’s as it should be.

IU spokesman Chuck Carney explained IU’s stance: “What we’re talking about is students exercising free speech rights and speaking in a peaceful manner. We think that’s what students should be doing.”

High school students should be encouraged to engage in current events and learn about public policies. The interest in meaningful engagement only should increase as students transition to college campuses.

As a sidebar to the aftermath of the most recent school shootings, the idea of student involvement is consistent with the namesake of the high school where the tragedy occurred. Marjory Stoneman Douglas would be proud of the students’ activism and approve of support shown to those students by IU and other universities.

According to her biography in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, her work “raised America’s consciousness and transformed the Florida Everglades from an area that was looked upon as a useless swamp — to be drained and developed commercially — to a national park that is seen as a valuable environmental resource to be protected and preserved. After this successful campaign to preserve the Everglades as a national park, Douglas continued her work by founding the Friends of the Everglades, a conservation organization still active today.”

She was a journalist for The Miami Herald who wrote editorials about important issues to her community. After she left the newspaper in the 1920s to become an author, she continued her work to improve society: “campaigns against slum-lords and for improved housing conditions, for free milk for babies whose parents needed aid, and for the ratification of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment,” the biography states.

It’s sad that outside of Florida, her name will be linked more to a tragedy than to advances on public policies prompted by her activism. But it’s heartening that students are trying to make the world a safer place on behalf of what happened in the school that bears her name.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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