University of California System Bans the Box for Prospective Employees

By Michael Klazema on 8/10/2017
The ban the box movement has come to the University of California educational system.

Per a report in The Daily Californian, the University of California implemented a hiring policy that will remove questions about criminal history from new employee job applications. The new policy will be applied across all 10 campuses in the UC system including nationally-ranked universities like UCLA and UC San Diego.

Previously, coverage notes, most of the universities in the UC system have asked applicants to disclose previous criminal convictions on their initial employment applications. Last year, the University of California, Berkeley, broke the trend, officially banning the box for prospective employees. Now, the other nine universities in the UC system are following Berkeley’s lead. According to the Daily Californian article, the new policy will likely take effect this fall—perhaps as early as October.

UC Berkeley decided to adopt a ban the box policy about a year ago, coverage explains, largely due to the encouragement of students. The Underground Scholars Initiative, a student organization dedicated to supporting “all prospective and current UC Berkeley students impacted by issues of mass incarceration,” lobbied the university to consider a fair chance employment measure. The university subsequently decided to delete criminal history questions from its job applications. USI, reporting satisfaction with the success of its efforts at Berkeley, turned its attention to the other schools in the USI system.

A spokesperson for the UC Office of the President confirmed that USI had been influential in bringing the ban the box movement to all 10 of the University of California campuses. The spokesperson said that the new policy will help to eliminate “unnecessary barriers to opportunity” and help the university draw qualified candidates from “a wider talent pool.”

Like most other ban the box policies, reports note, the new UC measure won’t eliminate consideration of past criminal activity. Rather, the policy will delay those conversations until later in the process. Candidates will have an opportunity to prove themselves and showcase their skills and qualifications without having to acknowledge any past transgressions up front. Once a candidate has made it to a certain stage of the hiring process, he or she will still be subject to a background check.

Per coverage, the spokesperson for the UC Office of the President stressed the fact that all job finalists must go through background checks before being hired. This part of the hiring process will not change, nor will any university in the UC system ignore potential criminal history red flags because of the new ban the box policy, the spokesperson claimed. Instead, human resources will assess each background check report individually and work to determine how—if at all—a conviction might impact an applicant’s ability to perform a job effectively.


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