These Questions Close Off College To Thousands, So NYU Is Pushing Back

Students' answers to two required Common Application questions for college admissions can doom their prospects.

New York University

New York University is in discussions with the board overseeing the Common Application for college to remove the criteria about students’ disciplinary history and criminal records.

The moves comes in wake of the protest staged by NYU students outside the Jeffrey S. Gould Welcome Center on Dec. 5, an attempt to move the prestigious institution to ban the boxes. Advocates claim they impede minorities and take away students’ opportunities at admission.

The Common Application, an online website that streamlines the college application process by providing students a one-stop platform to apply to over 600 member academic institutions, was created with the objective of improving access to higher education. However, its two controversial criteria added in 2007 are being questioned as they work counter to the website’s mission.

"Especially in the context of high rates of school discipline and incarceration among people of color, it seems vital to pose two questions about the checkboxes," NYU Vice President for Enrollment Management MJ Knoll-Finn wrote to Common's CEO and the director of its board.

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The checkboxes were added during a debate at the national level about making college campuses safer. Almost 10 years after the boxes were introduced, NYU officials want to know if the questions really keep colleges safer or whether they only succeed in discouraging diversity and social flexibility.

NYU’s motion is a small push toward Barack Obama’s Ban The Box executive order, which strives to abolish employment discrimination against former offenders applying for jobs.

Cory Greene, an alumnus of NYU and a former accomplice at a homicide, was able to attend the prestigious university and is using his experience to garner sympathy and humanizing ex- and current convicts.

“Over the last 30 years when you look at all of this evidence, the box doesn’t indicate anything towards campus safety or public safety,” Greene said. “It doesn’t indicate anything about who’s going to graduate at which rate people are going to graduate.”

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