West Boca High School students arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 20, 2018.
Joe Raedle—Getty Images
By Jamie Ducharme
Updated: February 25, 2018 10:35 AM ET | Originally published: February 24, 2018

Colleges nationwide are standing by their future students, as teenagers across the country demand stricter gun control laws in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., earlier this month.

The movement has been led and inspired by survivors of the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who have in the following days and weeks organized rallies, protests and marches; met with President Donald Trump; and gone toe-to-toe with lawmakers including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. They have been joined in protest by young people across the country, prompting praise from former President Barack Obama.

As the ripple effect spreads across the country, colleges and universities from Boston to Seattle have assured prospective and admitted students that peaceful protesting will not affect their admission status.

Three of Florida’s top universities — the University of Florida, the University of Miami and Florida State University — had up to Saturday remained largely silent on the issue. But in a statement provided to TIME, University of Florida spokesman Steve Orlando said peaceful protesting would likely not have an impact on admissions.

“The University of Florida supports the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, including by peaceful and lawful protest,” Orlando said. “Accordingly we would not consider participating in such a protest a negative in our admission process. We will review conduct that leads to in-school discipline or is found to have violated the law on a case-by-case basis.”

University of Miami spokesperson Megan Ondrizek also said in a statement provided to TIME that lawful protesting would likely not have negative ramifications for prospective students.

“The University of Miami requires that student applicants disclose discipline as part of its admission process. This said, universities are places where students gain knowledge and insight, and we support and respect the views of our students,” Ondrizek said. “The University of Miami will not punish a student applicant if, after review on case-by-case basis, the Admission Committee determines they have been disciplined while exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression while in peaceful protest of an issue, such as gun violence.”

TIME could not immediately reach Florida State University for comment.


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