If you’re seeking admission to the University of San Francisco, don’t let that stop you from skipping class – as long as it’s in the spirit of social justice reform. That’s right: the University of San Francisco made a statement last week regarding the protests against gun violence happening in high schools all across the country. These school walkouts began after the tragic school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The university made clear that applicants to USF with disciplinary demerits for such school walkouts will not be discriminated against. Their statement, posted via Twitter on Feb. 26, even encouraged students to do so. In the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, known for humanistic endeavors and dedication to social justice, the university stated, “we encourage all of our students to find their voice, and use it for a greater common good – to be people for and with others.”
School shootings are far too common in America, and, after the Parkland shooting, students across the country decided that if lawmakers wouldn’t step up and make policy changes to support their safety, they would take matters into their own hands. Classroom walkouts began in protest of our nation’s lenient gun control policies and the consistent lack of reform, despite events like that of Stoneman Douglas High School. Students have the right to feel safe in their own classrooms, but many of them do not feel that way. Some high schools have threatened to discipline and even suspend students who protest, but colleges like USF want to assure applicants that protest-related punishments will not affect their chances of admission.
I don’t think the university intends to undermine the value of a traditional classroom education, nor do they seek to sabotage the disciplinary system of high school institutions. Rather, I take this statement as a reflection of their devotion to social justice, responsibility and individual mission. Students attending this Jesuit institution do not need to have any particular religious beliefs. However, USF’s mission reflects the core values of the Jesuit Catholic tradition, which attending students are expected to uphold. Based on USF’s recent announcement, our school seeks students who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in, even if that means breaking a few rules along the way.
Not long after enrolling at USF, I found that this San Francisco hub of intellectuals and activists care less about the hours you spend slaving away behind a textbook to get that A+ and more about how you use this education to benefit others and influence change. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t dust off that biology textbook and start studying for midterms; just don’t do it aimlessly. Among USF’s core values are, “learning as a humanizing, social activity rather than a competitive exercise” and “social responsibility in fulfilling the University’s mission to create, communicate and apply knowledge, to a world shared by all people and held in trust for future generations,” as published online in their mission statement. Based on these statements, it’s safe to say USF wants students with passion, purpose and the guts to go against the grain and pave a new path for a better future. So if you got suspended, received detention or experienced some disapproving comments from an administrator at your high school for leaving class in protest of gun violence, don’t let that stop you from applying to USF. If anything, your devotion to gun regulation reforms might stand out. So, go ahead – walk out of class, get in the streets and march for what you believe in. Let the University of San Francisco be your support system as you discover what you want to stand for and then… change the world from here.
Featured Photo: USF admits people who share its values, and its policy on protestors reflects this. HURSH KARKHANIS / FOGHORN