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Ban the Box Goes to College: The Next Evolution in Eliminating the Question of Criminal History

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April 8, 2021 Return to News & Events

Ban the Box Goes to College: The Next Evolution in Eliminating the Question of Criminal History

Recent actions at Yale University have highlighted the next evolution in banning the question of criminal history on applications and students at Yale are looking to University Administration to begin the process. Adam Almeida, President and CEO of opines: “Student leaders become business leaders and ban-the-box policies, as an example, may become normalized through activism and exposure, but a best practice that must be learned and normalized is working with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as”

Student leaders are beginning to take on the question of Ban-the-Box for College and University applications. Banning the box essentially eliminates the question of criminal history and potentially levels the playing field for those with a criminal background record when it comes to being accepted into an institution of higher learning.

From on April 7, 2021:

Anyone who has filled out a university application may recall having to answer a question about their criminal history. Failure to answer these types of questions can delay application processing and a prospective student’s answer can result in a disciplinary hold or rejection.

Ban the Box at FAU is an organization working to remove questions regarding criminal history from FAU’s and other university and college admission applications. (1)

At Yale University in Connecticut, efforts are underway to ban-the-box on Yale’s admission applications but no longer on the Common Application widely used in higher education.

From Yale Daily News on April 1, 2021:

During the 2019-2020 admissions cycle, the Common Application permanently removed its criminal history question. However, Yale still includes a criminal history question in the Yale-specific section of the Common Application. The question asks applicants, “Have you ever been convicted of, or pled guilty or no contest to, a misdemeanor or felony, or are there any criminal charges pending against you?” (2)

In a guest column at the Yale Daily News, Elizabeth Cordova clearly expresses the reason behind Ban-the-Box for Colleges and Universities.

From Yale Daily News on March 28, 2021:

“So pervasive is the racial inequality in the criminal justice system, it is impossible for the inquiry and usage of criminal justice information in college applications to be a race-neutral practice” states a joint report from the Justice Impact Movement, also known as JIM, and Yale College Council. People with a history of system involvement are three times less likely to finish a college application after starting than those without, all because of a single question asking about their past. Most of these prospective students belong to nonwhite minorities, feeding the issue of skewed demographics in higher education. JIM, a subgroup within the Yale

Undergraduate Prison Project, encourages institutions of higher education to “ban the box” and promote a fairer system in the U.S. We want to break down the barriers to higher education for justice-impacted individuals. Such change starts with a new bill in the Connecticut General Assembly. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Ban-the-box related laws continue to expand across the country. The question of criminal history and when or if a criminal history can be utilized in a vetting process has been significantly challenged, forcing landlords, HR departments and universities to review existing policies. For many parties a best practice is to work with a well-qualified third-party employment screening agency in order to remain compliant with existing and potential law.” is a third-party employment screening company, an advocate of SHRM, a member in good standing with the PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association) and for over 17 years has maintained an A+ Rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). The company has highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal background 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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