Should Colleges Overlook Prior Criminal Records?

By Julian Wilson
Assistant Opinions Editor

Imagine you’re a student who attends college, but there are other people around you; some who’ve been arrested before, or who’ve committed crimes in the past. Would you ignore that person, only recognizing them as a criminal? Or would you give them the benefit of the doubt, a second chance? Recent studies show that colleges and universities are overlooking prior criminal records.

The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) is a nonprofit group “whose mission is to promote re-integrative justice, and reduce society’s reliance on incarceration.” An article published by CCA on Nov. 8, reads, “College Admissions Now Look at Criminal Records.” In the article, some key studies show that, “66% of the responding colleges collect criminal justice information, although not all of them consider it in their admissions process.”

Other statistics include that, “A sizable minority (38%) of the responding schools does not collect or use criminal justice information and those schools do not report that their campuses are less safe as a result.”

Another article on Truthout (Truth-out.org) by Levi LaChappelle, on Oct. 8, states a current challenge that many college students face. “It is worth considering how many promising individuals have been discouraged or disadvantaged in the college admissions process because of their criminal record,” LaChappelle said. He elaborated, saying that, “65 million Americans now have a misdemeanor or felony conviction; the number of individuals with a criminal record who have considered applying to college is probably no paltry sum.”

With the thought of criminal records being tried in the process of college admissions, what do students of LIU Post think?

“Information should [not] be required unless it’s been within one year of enrollment,” Mike Nicosia, a sophomore Accounting major, said. “Judging a kid on doing something when he was 13 or 14 will not reflect his or her character when they are enrolling for college.”

Meanwhile, Josh Levine, a junior Psychology major, believes that, “Anyone who wants a higher education should be able to attain it; however, if [that] person has a charge of murder for example, or something of violence, then it should be provided just as a safety precaution.”

Levine believes that reviewing prior criminal records could help prevent any further issues. “The combination of things that could be done would keep students and teachers out of harms way,” she said.

As for Nicosia, he thinks, “Transfer students should be required to provide this information.”

Should universities overlook students’ criminal records? Let us know your thoughts on liupostpioneer@gmail.com.

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Categories: Opinions

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