Ban the box

Ben Mehic, Managing News Editor

Recently, the SUNY Board of Trustees voted to “ban the box,” removing questions about potential students’ criminal histories on the institution’s application.

Utica College is a part of the 66 percent of colleges that collect criminal information from their applicants, according to the Center for Community Alternatives. That could change soon, though.

“We do have a ‘box’ on our application. The national Common Application and the Universal College Application also have these boxes,” Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Jeffery Gates said. “Both applications are used by hundreds of colleges across the country,”

Prior to submitting their applications, prospective UC students must reveal whether or not they have been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution since ninth grade and whether or not they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.

While the “box” is currently still being used by UC, there will be talks about its future.

“In the Spring we will be discussing our plans for the Fall of 2017 and beyond in regards to disciplinary history and will be working with the Common Application and Universal College Application to better understand how the applications could be modified to either keep, change, or update the language that is used,” Gates said.

Colleges typically engage with students before deciding whether or not to remove the “box.” After all, those without criminal histories will be sharing the classroom with others who have a stained past.

Some students, such as senior Taylor Haynes, would be comfortable with going to class with someone who has a criminal history.

“Personally, I feel that them banning the box is actually a good idea. I find that people who are criminals and want to go back to school are just trying to change themselves,” Haynes said. “The box probably limits where they can and can’t go, and I don’t feel that they should be limited just because of something that happened in the past.”

Others, like senior Sam Romano, are leaning more towards the other side.

“I see both sides of the issue. You definitely should be able to go to school even if you’ve made a youthful mistake, but I probably wouldn’t want to go to school with someone who’s committed a violent crime,” Romano said. “I would lean towards leaving it in there since it covers all the grounds and could be reviewed on a case by case basis.”