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CU Students Advocate To Ban The Box

Everyone deserves a second chance. Let the past stay in the past.

CU students are advocating to ban the box on Columbia University applications that specifically asks if an applicant has been convicted of a felony. Members of Beyond the Box at Columbia have created a letter to send to President Bollinger and Provost Coatsworth to remove the box on future CU applications. 

Beyond the Box at Columbia was founded by Leyla Martinez, a GS student that, like many other applicants, felt discouraged when met by “the box” on college applications, forced to have the past affect their chances of admission. Last year, Columbia University, along with 24 other universities in the United States, signed the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge which aims to make higher levels of education more accessible, especially for Americans that have a criminal record. Beyond the Box’s position on the issue is clear: the box is a deterrent for potential applicants that believe that the application process puts them at a disadvantage, even before applying to the school of their choice. Columbia currently still has the box on their applications, asking for information that is irrelevant when determining whether a person would be able to succeed at the university.

Let’s not forget the facts: people of color, residents in lower income communities, or people with a lower socioeconomic status in general are disproportionally incarcerated. Many affected struggle to find employment opportunities once they are released from prison, and others that seek higher levels of education are met with obstacles, one being “the box.” Opportunity to receive a college education would decrease the recidivism rate, make people generally more productive, and allow people of color to have access to education that was once inaccessible. Columbia prides itself on its low acceptance rate, increasing representation of minorities, and its sanctuary campus status, but why hasn’t the box been taken off the application?

Beyond the Box is just as confused as you are. New York State public universities (SUNY and CUNY) has recently removed the box from their applications. The move to ban the box should not be seen as progressive, but necessary, especially at a school which searches for diversity in thought, life, and action.

If you’d like to read Beyond the Box at Columbia’s letter to President Bollinger, click here.

Image via Flickr

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  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous This is ridiculous. Why on earth would any university want convicted felons as students? What would the liability be? NRT goes crazy if someone looks at someone funny o touches someone, can you imagine a convicted felon or convicted rapist living in the next room? In your suite? Are you kidding me? These are not people with a traffic ticket or drug possession, these are CONVICTED FELONS.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Why make such a comment privately? What are you ashamed of? You shouldn’t be ashamed of anything you are obviously perfect and have never made any mistakes or wrong choices.
      People who have been incarcerated are people who were caught for their indiscretions as opposed to the many criminals who are already on campus who simply have not been caught or have enough money to get away with it or who like Brock Turner have the privilege of being white and seen like a good young man who made a simple mistake and is not classified as a felon or sexual offender….you are in an ivy league university, pay more attention in class and maybe you will learn that the US Criminal Justice System is not just at all for people of color it is JUST–US (White Folks)

    2. Meah Rodriguez says:

      @Meah Rodriguez The only thing that is ridiculous is your comment, that question has no place in college applications!!! #BanTheBoxAtColumbia

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous This is a truly ignorant statement. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about, but it’s good that you commented because you will serve as an example of the idiocy that has dominated intelligent conversations about progress.

    4. @Leyla Martinez Hello Anonymous,

      You should read the letter it does a good job of explaining why we as a society benefit from an educated community. Just in case you won’t take the time to do that, here are just some of the reasons from the letter; “Access to post-secondary education reduces recidivism, challenges inequality, promotes public safety, and prepares people to lead productive lives. Consequently, the only way we can build a safer and healthier society is by allowing these men and women to achieve success by removing obstacles which would interfere with acquiring an education. The benefits of having a thoughtful, educated community extend beyond the individual. Increasing access to higher education for all, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any one wrong decision or mistake in their past, is necessary to create the vibrant democracy that our nation so direly needs”

      The United States currently has almost 70 million people with a criminal record—these are your neighbors, your classmates, your coworkers, your friends and your family members—not some sort of disposable item that you no longer have use for, they are people like you and me who are not perfect and deserve an opportunity to redeem themselves, NO ONE is beyond redemption.

  • Ulises says:

    @Ulises Great initiative!!!

  • Meah Rodriguez says:

    @Meah Rodriguez Why on earth does Columbia University have that question on the application? That makes no sense to me, shouldn’t we as a society want tge people in our society to be more educated? #BanTheBoxColumbia

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