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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Students say, “Ban the box!”


NOTE: This post was originally published on April 6, 2016 and has been updated with new information.            

On May 26, 2017, Maryland Governor Hogan vetoed a bill that would have barred Maryland colleges from inquiring about criminal history on admission applications. Governor Hogan reasoning the bill, in its current state, was too restrictive on schools and jeopardized student safety.

If passed, Maryland would have been the first state to prohibit all colleges and universities from including questions about criminal history on their applications. Admissions offices could still inquire about criminal convictions of accepted applicants but could not withdraw an offer of admission based on the answer.

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Many employment applications include the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime”.  For the past several years there has been a movement to have the question removed. Every year legislatures at the State, County, and City level take up the issue of whether or not to “Ban the Box”.  Advocates want job applicants to be considered for their qualifications and not rejected based on criminal past. Should the box be banned, February 2013
Currently there are 100 cities and counties that have passed legislation to have the question removed from their respective government employment applications. Twenty-one states have also passed laws-California (2013, 2010), Colorado (2012), Connecticut (2010), Delaware (2014), Georgia (2015), Hawaii (1998), Illinois (2014, 2013), Maryland (2013), Massachusetts (2010), Minnesota (2013, 2009), Nebraska (2014), New Jersey (2014), New Mexico (2010), New York (2015), Ohio (2015), Oklahoma (2016), Oregon (2015), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2015), Virginia (2015), and Wisconsin (2016). Seven of those states (Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, and Rhode Island) have removed the question from private employment applications as well.
            The Common App college admissions application has over 500 member education institutions and has been in use since the late 1990’s. Since the 2006-2007 admissions cycle the Common App has also included a question as to whether or not the applicant had been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. The applicant answers yes or no and is required to submit a separate explanation if there is a conviction.
            On March 29, 2016, students from New York University (NYU) staged a sit-in to demand that the school stop receiving the criminal question data from the Common App. Although no immediate changes were made, the NYU administration and the CEO of the Common App met with the students. Much like the advocates for employment purposes, college applicants want to be considered first on their merits and not excluded because of criminal convictions.
            As the Ban the Box movement has steadily gained traction in employment circles, you can expect the issue to continue be brought up on college campuses as well.

See our blog archive for other posts relating to Ban the Box:

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