3 Colleges in New York Agree to Drop Crime Question

October 27, 2014

Three colleges in New York State have reached an agreement with the state's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, to drop application questions on criminal records that Schneiderman and others said went too far, The New York Times reported. At St. John's University, the question read: “Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?” A statement from the attorney general said: “An arrest or police stop that did not result in a conviction, or a criminal record that was sealed or expunged, should not — indeed must not — be a standard question on a college application." The other colleges that agreed to drop similar questions are Dowling College and Five Towns College. The agreement with colleges says that they may consider a criminal record in evaluating an applicant if the record "indicates that the individual poses a threat to public safety or property, or if the convictions are relevant to some aspect of the academic program or student responsibilities.”

At some other campuses, asking questions about criminal records has been criticized by some student groups, although some colleges have also been criticized for not asking enough about applicants' criminal records. The Common Application poses the question in a way that would seem consistent with Schneiderman's criticisms. The Common Application question is: “Have you ever been adjudicated guilty or convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime? Note that you are not required to answer 'yes' to this question, or provide an explanation, if the criminal adjudication or conviction has been expunged, sealed, annulled, pardoned, destroyed, erased, impounded, or otherwise ordered by a court to be kept confidential."

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