Application to U changes for better

Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota’s application for admission will soon include adjusted policies regarding criminal background checks in order to encourage more prospective students with criminal records to apply, the Minnesota Daily reported last week. 
 
Besides incorporating new questions in the fall 2016 application for admission, the University will now keep criminal information hidden from the admissions committee until a potential student is considered academically qualified. 
 
This modified procedure echoes similar statewide developments in hiring. “Ban the box” legislation — which requires employers to keep questions about prior convictions off initial employment applications — expanded last year in Minnesota to include private employers.
 
Although companies can still use criminal history information to make hiring decisions, they can’t conduct checks until a later stage in the decision process, like after an interview or conditional job offer.  
 
Some University experts say that criminal justice reform is more accepted nowadays than it has been in the past. The University’s new policy — to determine a potential student’s academic merit before reviewing criminal history information — is a step in the right direction.
 
From the applicant’s perspective, it’s unfair to be denied public education based solely on past infractions. By withholding that part of the discussion until later, the revised admissions policy ensures that decision-makers consider multiple parts of an applicant’s story before making a verdict.  
 
It’s also detrimental to the state economy if talented individuals are prematurely discouraged or turned away from earning a degree. Therefore, we commend University admissions officials on opening doors for those with criminal histories.