A common application form for college has now been in use for as number of years. More than 600 schools accept this standard format. Seen as a seamless admissions process towards the opportunity of multiple places. However the application form now seems to be at odds with the ban the box campaign. College applicants across the U.S. have been asked the same question since 2006. Has the applicant ever been charged over a felony or misdemeanor.

The ban the box campaign have been hammering away at employers with a degree of success. Critics and activists both contend that it encourages prejudice. Further that those with criminal records are unfairly impeded when attempting to work. A bar to housing also cited as the route to recidivism. Criminal justice reform has has seen sweeping changes throughout the U.S. Ban the box campaign has re aligned employment practices. Also applying to federal agencies along with municipalities and States. Companies are now in contravention of the law to include a criminal records check box. However this does not prevent employers from conducting a background check.

However for college applicants it remains part and parcel of the process. However NYU has recently come under fire for it’s approach. Former NYU and current students staged a sit in (33 hours) as a protest. Demands were made by those protesting that the University “abolished the box”. Those involved in the ban the box campaign were threatened with trespass if they continued. Oddly they were also barred from using bathrooms overnight. A resolution was agreed with officials and further a meeting with the NYU president prior to graduation in May.

With a propensity to criminalize America has as many citizens with diplomas as rap sheets. The building of universities lags some way behind the construction of correctional facilities. Racial profiling has also played it’s part in that Black and Latino have a disproportionate share of criminal records. In 2015 an activist group IEC (Incarceration to Education Coalition) formed to provide a voice to those students previously incarcerated. The group has an extensive list of support and backers and were instrumental in the occupation. It is also in dialogue with the common app. For further reading and more about the author please follow the links.

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