ban the box

Applicants said the country's largest state university system discriminated against former prison inmates. Now, the schools have decided to #BanTheBox.

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony.  STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/ THE MARSHALL PROJECT .

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony. STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/THE MARSHALL PROJECT.

As of 2018, students who apply to a two-year or four-year college within the State University System of New York will no longer have to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony.

SUNY officials, who oversee the nation's largest public university system, voted on Wednesday to "ban the box" on student applications that asks about criminal history. An internal memo outlining SUNY's decision credited a 2015 analysis that found nearly two-thirds of applicants who disclosed having a felony record had dropped out of the application process.

Alan Rosenthal, an attorney with the Syracuse-based Center for Community Alternatives, an advocacy group for former inmates that investigated SUNY's treatment of applicants, said he was elated to learn that his analysis influenced the change.

"This is the first public education system in any state to reverse course, and reject the box," Rosenthal told The Marshall Project. "Hopefully other states will do the same."

SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis, however, noted that students will still face criminal background inquiries when applying for on-campus housing, internships and study abroad programs.

Click here to read the rest of the story on The Marshall Project.

#BanTheBox: The largest public university system in the US banned a type of question from its application that could affect thousands of prospective students

The vote by SUNY, the largest public university system in the US follows a growing trend to "ban the box" at educational instutions across the nation.

The vote by SUNY, the largest public university system in the US follows a growing trend to "ban the box" at educational instutions across the nation.

The State University of New York system voted Wednesday to remove questions about criminal history from applications to its schools, Syracuse.com reported.

The vote by the largest public university system in the US — with nearly half a million enrolled students — follows a push to "ban the box" at colleges and universities across the nation.

SUNY cited a study that found that while about 3,000 of its applicants answer "yes" on questions about felony convictions, only about 1,200 go on to complete applications, according to Syracuse.com.

In May, the Department of Education urged colleges and universities to remove questions about criminal history from applications.

The recommendation, described in the new report "Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals," says colleges should remove the barriers to higher education for the "estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records."

"We believe in second chances and we believe in fairness," Secretary of Education John King Jr. said at a press conference, according to a release from the White House. "The college admissions process shouldn't serve as a roadblock to opportunity but should serve as a gateway to unlocking untapped potential of students."

In unveiling the report, the Department of Education referred to a 2015 Center for Community Alternatives study that found that 63% of college applicants with felony convictions begin applications but do not finish them. Those numbers closely align with the findings at SUNY. Among all applicants, however, only 21% of applications go unfinished.

While 35% of colleges in a recent survey, highlighted by The Atlantic's Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, acknowledged they had denied applicants because of their criminal history, experts argue that the questions themselves could intimidate and deter applicants from even completing the process.

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