USC Admission will not penalize prospective students who engage in peaceful, political action


February 24, 2018

USC Admission will not penalize prospective students who engage in peaceful, political action.

The pending student-led protests, arising in the wake of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, have prompted many to ask how USC might consider suspensions of prospective students. Kirk Brennan, Associate Dean, Director of Undergraduate Admission, responds:

The USC Office of Undergraduate Admission seeks to form a community of students who will engage in the process of discovery. Furthering knowledge requires students and faculty who are willing to share their views and consider others. Therefore, we do not penalize students for speaking up. In fact, we seek them.

In the admission process, we consider information about disciplinary action carefully, not formulaically. We hope to understand lessons learned, with an eye to a student’s potential contributions to learning. Though it is rare, we sometimes choose to deny or rescind admission of students who appear to be threats to our community standards. But we have also welcomed students who have shown they have moved beyond temporary lapses in judgment.

The goal is education, not further punishment.

Joseph P. Allen was the USC Dean of Admission who hired me. Joe passed away nearly two decades ago, but he is still remembered for promoting education as a path towards peace and justice, and as a way to solve the world’s great problems. He was also a convicted felon; he resisted the draft during the Vietnam War, and he went to prison for it. We can all think of examples of civil disobedience that resulted in important, lasting improvements to our world. Joe, like many watching this story unfold, would be proud of the students pushing for change. As one of Joe’s hires, I am proud of these students.

To reiterate: USC Admission will not penalize prospective students who engage in peaceful, political action.

As we say at USC, Fight on!

Kirk Brennan
Associate Dean
Director of Undergraduate Admission
Twitter: @kirk_brennan

In writing this post explaining USC Admission’s position, these resources come to mind:

7 thoughts on “USC Admission will not penalize prospective students who engage in peaceful, political action”

  1. Peaceful political action is a constitutional right, which I heartily endorse. But this article celebrates a convicted felon. As one who graduated and then served his Country in the USMC during the Vietnam era, I find such glorification misplaced, at best.

  2. As an alumnus of this grand University, I am exceptionally proud of this decision and welcome such brilliant and determined students into our family of Troy. Fight On! ✌🏽

  3. It should be made explicitly clear that this includes students on both sides of the political spectrum. Given the current poltical climate and the only specific incident mentioned in this letter, it seems that there could be some bias behind this announcement. USC was a wonderful learning experience for me because I was able to engage with other students from across the nation and globe, who had both similar and differing views from my own. To me, the values of a Trojan aren’t limited to one political direction, they are simply: Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous & Ambitious. Fight On.

    1. I’m a proud parent of a recent USC alumni. I second Kristen Marsh. The words “regardless of political affiliation” would make a welcome amendment to Dean Brennan’s statement. Unlike many other schools, USC has shown a consistent willingness to host and support speakers from all viewpoints. That’s an earned asset to feature everywhere.

  4. As a parent of a QuestBridge 2022 applicant, I applaud USC’s open mindedness and support of students civic responsibility and peaceful protest.

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