Response to “Restore the vote for state criminals”

According to this article, “Re-entering society after a prison sentence is already extraordinarily difficult, with many barriers to employment and education.”
Indeed it is. And how about the University of Minnesota’s criminal background questions on some of its admissions application forms? Why does it ask these questions? I have three thoughts.
1. It can’t be because the policy conforms to best practices on college campuses across the country.
“Best practices” was one response I got when I asked University administrators why the University inquires about prospective students’ criminal histories. So I googled Board of Best Practices, Best Practices Association, Best Practices Society, BBP, BPB, BPA and BPS. I found nothing. Maybe I should have googled “Best Bureaucratic Gibberish.”
2. It can’t be that it makes for a safer campus.
There is no evidence that schools which ask these questions are safer. Little research has been done on this, but the only studies that have been conducted have concluded that asking criminal background questions has no effect on campus safety. 
The University has only asked about students’ criminal history for less than a decade. Comparative campus crime rates could be examined, but it seems the University is not interested.
3. It supposedly can’t be due to racism because we have an Office for Equity and Diversity at the University.
Though everyone I’ve talked to in the OED agrees that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects people of color at every level of the system, the OED was not even willing to issue a simple statement that these questions are possibly racist.
Judging from other responses of University administrators, the reason seems to be that these questions are asked so that the University conforms to what other schools do.
Regrettably, when it comes to racism, the University is a follower, not a leader.
Chuck Turchick
University student