“Formerly incarcerated applicants are among the most vulnerable, and we should treat them with respect, if not admiration”
Princeton University has taken a stance against a student movement called “Ban the Box.” The “box” refers to a section of the college admissions application that inquires about a prospective student’s criminal history. Applicants with criminal histories are very likely to be rejected from academic institutions. Students argue that by allowing criminal histories to weigh into admissions decisions, the Princeton administration is perpetuating inequality and is unfairly denying the formerly incarcerated second chances. Higher education is also an important contributor to decreasing recidivism.
During a meeting held at the Council of the Princeton University Community, a mixture of opinions emerged regarding how exoffender applicants should be treated.
Some, including many students, thought that once a person has served his or her time, he or she should be able to regain all the rights of full citizenship.
Some, representatives of Princeton expressed their opposition.“I think there are some kinds of criminal activity that may be related to risks that could occur on campus,” said Christopher Eisgruber, President of Princeton University. “We take those risks seriously.”
“I think there are some kinds of criminal activity that may be related to risks that could occur on campus”
Samuel Aftel, a Princeton University student, expressed frustration at the university’s reasoning for maintaining the box. He said that accord- ing to the university’s logic, a former convict will be more likely to commit violence outside FitzRandolph Gate than on campus. Princeton claims to protect its campus community above all else. Some say that the university is okay with the violence as long as it happens outside its campus gates.
“We take those risks seriously”
There is limited research on the potential impacts of banning the box and no hard data suggests a formerly incarcerated person will endanger other students. Some feel that to deny a person’s civil liberties after incarceration is to essentially keep that person incarcerated after his or her release.
“Formerly incarcerated applicants are among the most vulnerable, and we should treat them with respect, if not admiration,” says Aftel.