On Feb. 14, Americans were glued to their phones, laptops and televisions. We watched in horror as yet another school shooting unfolded, this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The national grief after tragedies like these is horrific enough, let alone paired with the frustration over the government’s inaction regarding gun control.

But the tension felt after the Stoneman-Douglas shooting is inherently unique. The same arguments that normally are discussed after shootings are now felt more severely than ever. They are more raw, more determined and more passionate — because they are coming from a generation that is rarely taken seriously, even when we watch our peers die.

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The Stoneman Douglas survivors represent more than just an extremely valid movement. They are the ideal cross-section of American youth — educated, articulate and politically active. Their speeches, social media posts and exceptionally brave presentations at the CNN Town Hall and other media outlets have inspired young adults across the nation to become politically active and fight for greater safety for all.

High school students from Maine to California have already participated in walkouts meant to urge U.S. lawmakers to make stricter policies regarding firearms. Similarly, the Women’s March has organized an official walkout on March 14, the shooting’s one month anniversary. These walkouts typically last 17 minutes, one to honor each of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. Both colleges and high schools across the country will be participating

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Though for a valiant cause, the protest has received significant backlash from high school administrators, who threaten suspension of students who choose to participate in the walkout. Students are walking out anyways, prompting universities across the nation to assure students a disciplinary citation resulting from gun violence protests will not hurt their chance of admission. The University of Wisconsin joined the ranks of those universities in a tweet Monday.

It is admirable that UW encourages its future students to engage in current events and be politically active. But let’s remember this is also a university that abides by the Board of Regents’ free speech policy, which essentially robs students of their right to protest campus speakers. Though the university meant well, this is a nonsensical action that blatantly disrespects the rights of current students. The right to protest should not suddenly be revoked once a student is on campus.

A university’s purpose is innovation, whether it be through technology or ideas. But UW takes this a step further with the Wisconsin Idea, the idea that we should take this innovation and improve our communities. Protest is the first step toward the development of new, innovative public policy. By only allowing it for certain populations, UW undermines the entire purpose protest as an act of political activism and squelches any chance of fulfilling its purpose of innovation.

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This is not to say that UW should allow the discipline referrals high school walkouts cause to affect a prospective student’s chance of admission. It’s an understanding, valiant action — one that should be extended to current students. It is an action that proves UW and the Board of Regents can do better than the free speech policy and should do better, for the good of the students, state and university.

Abigail Steinberg is a freshman majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.