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University of Minnesota Adds Ban the Box Policy

By Michael Klazema on 12/13/2016
The University of Minnesota is officially banning the box on its student applications. Per a report from WDAY 6—an ABC affiliate and news station based in North Dakota—the Minnesota state university recently announced the new policy, which will go into effect in 2017. The policy will eliminate questions about criminal history from the admissions application that students must fill out and submit if they are interested in attending the school.

In the past, the University of Minnesota has asked all prospective students if they have any felony convictions on their records. The admissions application has also inquired about whether potential students are facing any pending criminal charges. Per the WDAY 6 report, students applying for admission in fall 2017 or after will no longer have to answer those queries.

Counties, cities, and states across the country have used ban the box policies to bar certain categories of employers from asking candidates about their criminal history. Minnesota is one of the states that, per coverage, has made ban the box policies part of its state legislative agenda. State law requires private employers and public employers alike to scrub questions about criminal history from their job applications.

Usually, as coverage explains, the policies only extend to job applications. While the University of Minnesota could previously have been required to stop asking questions about criminal history on job applications, such questions could remain on admissions applications.

The University of Minnesota is not complying with any laws, ordinances, or other measures in its decision to ban the box for student admissions. Rather, per the institution, the university says that it decided to “ban the box” prospective students because otherwise those criminal history questions might discourage students from applying. Specifically, the university was worried that the policy might be driving away “underrepresented minority populations.”

Since the university doesn’t have to comply with any specific state or regional measures, coverage notes, it can keep certain aspects of its previous policies intact. For instance, the university has said that it will keep questions about sexual offenses and academic dishonesty on the application for admission. Students who have gotten into trouble for academic dishonesty in the past, or those who have been convicted of sex offenses, are still expected to disclose that information on the admission application.

The university has stated that asking about felony history and pending criminal charges is necessary to preserve the safety of its student housing community. Questions about criminal past or present will still be found on the University of Minnesota on-campus housing application.

Sources:

https://www.wday.com/news/minnesota/4173406-u-m-will-ban-box-stop-asking-applicants-about-criminal-history

http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/Ban-the-Box-Fair-Chance-State-and-Local-Guide.pdf

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