Peaceful protests will not hinder applicants’ admission to Rice

Rice University has announced that participation in peaceful protests will not have a negative effect on prospective students’ admission to Rice.

“Rice Univ. respects the right of free expression and encourages responsible citizenship among our current students and high school applicants,” the university tweeted Feb. 25. “Disciplinary sanctions for participating in peaceful protests by students will not negatively impact their admission to the university.”

Generic photo of people holding hands at a rally or protestThe statement is posted on the university’s Facebook page and the Office of Admission’s website. The office was contacted by a few applicants and admitted students who were concerned about the potential consequences of participating in the protests planned for March 24 in response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed.

President David Leebron consulted with Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero da Silva, Vice President for Public Affairs Linda Thrane and Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson to discuss the issue and develop the statement.

Romero da Silva said the holistic admissions process at Rice evaluates students’ experiences and achievements within the context of their life circumstances. “If disciplinary infractions have occurred, we seek information from the applicant and others who can provide context for the situation,” she said. “The values we practice at Rice also inform how we view the information presented by an applicant.”

“Our admission office has made very clear that participation in peaceful protests will not harm a student’s chance of admission to Rice,” Leebron tweeted. “The tragic consequences of violence from guns is an important issue, and speech, civic engagement and research on it should be encouraged.”

In addition to Rice, more than 100 institutions of higher education, including Harvard, Yale, Brown and Dartmouth, have made statements assuring potential students that disciplinary actions related to peaceful protests would not have a negative impact on admission decisions.

“Rice has welcomed student engagement with the important issues of our times, whether of our own students or potential future students who might choose Rice,” Leebron said. “This was an opportunity to reaffirm the importance we attach to free expression, peaceful protest and various forms of civic engagement.”

Romero da Silva said this is the first time she is aware of high school students mobilizing on an issue on such a national scale. “It is a testament to the responsibility and maturity of admitted Early Decision students and current regular decision applicants who have reached out to Rice and other institutions to understand whether participating in peaceful protests and walkouts and any related infractions would have a negative impact on their admission,” she said.



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.