Ban-the-Box on College Applications Remain in the News
Ban-the-Box legislation continues to evolve and expand across the country by legislating the removal of “Past Convictions” from employment applications. Recently some cities and states have looked into the removal of the box in rental housing applications. Now, the movement to ban-the-box has taken root in colleges and universities across the country and several states have recently taken steps to ban-the-box.
In Virginia, Gov. Northam signed legislation removing the “box” on state college and university applications.
From www.progress-index.com on June 3, 2021:
… were happy to be in attendance to see Gov. Ralph S. Northam ceremoniously sign legislation that removes that box from most Virginia-based colleges and universities. The legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1., 2022, has a special carve-out for Virginia Military Institute and for post-graduate law school programs.
The legislation does not completely take away criminal background checks, but it does push them further down the selection and acceptance process. That improves applicants' chances of making it past the first round and provides an avenue for them to explain in detail just what that history included. (1)
At Florida Atlantic University staff are encouraging administration to ban-the-box. However, the efforts do create a perception of conflict, safety versus admission with criminal history.
From Yahoo.com on May 28, 2021:
A group of faculty members at Florida Atlantic University want the university to stop asking students to disclose their criminal histories on their applications — part of a growing movement to urge large schools and employers to rethink their application process.
The initiative proposed for FAU pits two interests against each other: the desire to give applicants with criminal pasts a chance at higher education against concerns surrounding public safety on school campuses. (2)
The university continues to review its position.
And in Pennsylvania, similar efforts are underway.
From WHYY.org on October 21, 2020
A new bipartisan bill in Harrisburg would prohibit nearly two dozen universities in Pennsylvania from asking applicants about their criminal background records.
The Common Application, the most widely used college application in the country, stopped asking prospective students that question last year. But schools that want to continue using the application can still ask about a person’s juvenile and adult criminal records using their own supplemental forms. If the bill passes, that will no longer be an option.
Speaking at a virtual news conference on Wednesday, state Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Phila.) said her “ban-the-box” legislation is needed now more than ever. (3)
Adam Almeida, President and CEO of CriminalBackgroundRecords.com, states: “Across the country when and how criminal background reports can be used as a part of employment, renting and, recently, academic applicants has changed, and will continue to change. New laws are enacted on a regular basis, and a best practice remains to work with a well-qualified background screening agency in order to remain compliant with laws governing the fair, lawful, and legal use of criminal records.”
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