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The downsides of requiring students to disclose criminal history

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2019 | Criminal Defense

If you or your child is filling out college applications in Pennsylvania, you may notice there is a section asking about criminal history. This is fairly common these days. Schools want to know as much as possible about students, but having to disclose criminal history on your application may seem unfair. You are not alone if you feel this way.

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains there are many people who feel asking about criminal history on a college application is a bad idea. They often point to the fact that the “ban the box” initiative prevents employers from asking on a job application because it can lead to discrimination, so colleges should have to follow the same guidelines.

It does not make campus safer

One reason someone may want to justify asking about criminal history is that it keeps criminals off campus. In turn, this will keep them safer. Everyone wants safe college campuses, right? Well, the reality is that this has not proven to help with safety in any way, so that argument does not work.

It leads to rights violations

Many schools will base an admissions decision solely on whether a student has a criminal history or not, immediately dismissing a student who does. This can violate rights of students who are in minorities who happen to get rejections more often when criminal history plays a role in admissions.

It prevents education opportunities

Not only do students with a criminal background have to face other hurdles due to their history but they also now miss out on an education. This could be the one thing that can help them get on their feet, but now they do not have access to it.

Asking about criminal history on a college application is certainly a school’s right, but it does not make sense overall when you look at the negative effects of it.