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“Ban-the-Box” Type Policies May Impact Public and Private Institutions of Higher Learning Admission Policies

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August 24, 2016 Return to News & Events

“Ban-the-Box” Type Policies May Impact Public and Private Institutions of Higher Learning Admission Policies

In recent years “Ban-the-Box” legislation has stormed the country and brought about significant change to the hiring process and the related use of criminal histories as part of that process. As legislated by state and local jurisdictions as well as several private companies “Ban-the-Box” eliminates the question of criminal history on the application and controls when a criminal background check can be conducted.

Now “Ban-the-Box” has gone to college.

From (Apr. 29, 16):

The long-running “Ban the Box” campaign is now gaining ground at colleges and universities. The movement aims to protect job, and now student, applicants from being asked about their criminal histories and was recently bolstered by President Obama, who is taking executive action to ban the practice at federal agencies. Campus officials say the background question helps them learn as much as possible about prospective students and allows them to take steps to keep everyone on campus safe. But opponents say the question—which requires prospective students to check a box if they have criminal histories—is an undue barrier that harms certain groups of students. (1)

Changes on the common application, a document used across multiple campuses, represents a significant change, similar in scope and purpose of “Ban-the-Box.”

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of states: “Changes to the use of criminal records as part of pre-employment screening or any application process continue to evolve. Practices that are considered legal and lawful today could drastically change tomorrow. Universities and colleges may be on the cusp of significant change.”

New York University is one key advocate of the new criminal history report use policy but with critical revisions.

From the August 2, 2016

Starting this month, New York University will no longer consider every criminal conviction on an applicant's record, regardless of severity, as part of the undergraduate application process. Instead, the school is instating a new set of questions that require applicants to disclose whether they have been "convicted of or disciplined for violent incidents," according to a press release from the school. (2)

Almeida notes: “Research has shown that the question of criminal history on college applications does not predict behavior in a significant way.”

Also from (Aug. 02, 16):

Studies have shown that having the box on college applications doesn't make campuses any safer, and NYU reached the same conclusion after an internal assessment of its own disciplinary records. "NYU took a look at the NYU disciplinary records of enrolled students who had checked the box against the overall undergraduate NYU population," Knoll-Finn stated. "We found no meaningful differences in the rates of infractions." (3)

In Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has added his voice to those pushing for change in the application process.

From (Jul. 01, 16):

Eric Garcetti has recruited 32 other mayors across the country to join him in urging college admissions companies to stop asking applicants about their criminal histories.

In a letter, the mayors petitioned the Common Application Association and Universal College Application — two companies whose standard applications are used by many private universities — “to remove any box that inquiries into a person’s past criminal history from your admissions applications.” (4)

Almeida opines: “Changes with the use of criminal history as part of a vetting process, from tenant screening to employment screening, to college applications, will continue to evolve and change over time. This activity reinforces the need for all companies and organizations utilizing public records, including criminal history, to work with well-qualified third-party background screening companies in order to maintain full compliance with all laws.” is a third-party background screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal records, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with



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