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!
Director of Undergraduate Admission
In writing this post explaining USC Admission’s position, these resources come to mind:
- Kudos to David Quinn for spreading the word: https://twitter.com/MrDavidQuinn/status/966475153117921280
- Stu Schmill at MIT probably said it best: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/policies-principles-and-protests
- The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) is keeping a list: https://www.nacacnet.org/news–publications/student-activism-and-the-admission-process/
- Joe’s obituary from 2001: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/apr/07/local/me-48126
- Two regional, professional organizations have named humanitarian awards after Joe. Here’s a list of the Western ACAC Joe Allen awards winners: https://www.wacac.org/resources/awards/joseph-p-allen-human-relations-award/