Until recently, all State University Of New York admissions prospective applications have asked students whether they have ever been convicted of a felony. For the student that answers yes, a fairly intense screening process would begin to ensure that the proposed student would not be a threat to others. The proposed student would be reviewed by a board and his or her criminal record would be dissected.
On Sept. 14, the SUNY board decided to remove the felony question from the applications of 64 state schools, including Oswego.
This is a wonderful opportunity. By removing this question from the application, applicants may feel more comfortable applying to schools in order to further their education and to better themselves. Surely a felony is no light matter, but if the person has dealt with the consequences of their actions, they should be allowed a second chance; an opportunity to better themselves and leave past mistakes behind them.
This decision to remove the felony question is not putting other students in harms way. Applicants for housing, clinical and field experience, internships and study abroad will still have to answer whether they have been convicted of a felony on their applications. It is only the admissions application that has removed the felony question.
This policy change was brought about in part by the Obama administration urging colleges to question whether these types of questions are necessary in college applications. Any change that will make applicants feel more comfortable and more confident with themselves, without putting other students at risk, is a change that should be made.
Anyone who has faced the consequences of their actions, is reformed and has a desire to better themselves through a college education should be allowed to do so without having to dig up their past before they are even in the door.
Yes, a criminal record is an important aspect to look into, but for an admissions application, it is unnecessary. People with felony records may feel more confident and therefore, be brave enough to apply for a college education if they are not immediately asked to dig up their past. By removing it from the admissions application and instead have it only on applications for housing and higher education opportunities, prospective students will be able to get their foot in the door and become comfortable enough before having to surrender their criminal records.
America was built as a refuge for those to come and build a better life, to achieve the “American Dream.” It should be no different for those with felonies on their record. Their mistakes are in the past and they have paid for their crimes.
The SUNY board deserves a round of applause for working to pass this policy change. In doing so they have made the application process easier for those with felonies. College applications are stressful enough without having to worry if a past mistake will ruin your chance of acceptance before you are even able to prove yourself, to prove that you are not the same person who committed a felony.